By Vuk Djordjevic
Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops, Novi Sad, Serbia
Professor Ho, a historian at the University of Chicago, has aptly written (1955): It is foolish to believe that a certain plant can be introduced into a new area only once, and then only by a certain route. A new plant may score an immediate success in one region and remain neglected in another for a considerable time. Sometimes only through repeated trial and errors can a new plant strike root. Sometimes a new plant may actually be introduced more than once. Soybean was quite common in Easter Asia for eons, while it reach Europe quite late, in 18 century.
Timidly was grown in botanical gardens in Nederland, Paris and UK for curiosity, botanical and taxonomic purpose. First recorded agricultural production was in Dubrovnik, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Austria. And then, almost despair. In the same time, on the other part of the world, several interesting more or less successful stories were recorded about soybean introduction in US. By the late 1850s, soybeans were evaluated for forage potential by many farmers throughout the United States. And the story goes on with several (un) successful introduction of soybean.
Today, Argentina and Brazil produce enormous amount of soybeans, mostly for fast growing population in the world. Ironically, one of the rain forests deforestation is consequence of high demand for soybean in the motherland. At the same time, the old countries fear to consume biotech food and aware of deforestation while river Danube crosses their mind with potential for self-sufficient soybean production. The plant Earth becomes too small for this marvelous plant and in the year 2002, soybean goes to the space. It is first-ever complete a major crop growth cycle at the International Space Station, from planting seeds to growing new seeds.
What is the first association when somebody mentions soybeans? For a middle age Asian, it is wide variety of food and beverages, for modern farmer it is profit and environmental effect of production, nutritionist thinks about desirable amino acids and other health promoting compounds, industrialist thinks about processing and product development, trader about buying and selling all that, I think that all those associations reflecting importance of soybeans for us and demonstrate permeation of this plant through our everyday life. This issue tries to present research on soybean around world, from well-established US scientists, to the less famous but very interesting stories from all corners of our globe.