Soybean (Glycine max L. Merril) is the world’s most important seed legume,
which contributes to 25 % of the global edible oil, about two-thirds of the world’s
protein concentrate for livestock feeding (Arshad, 2006). Soybean meal is a
valuable ingredient in formulated feeds for poultry and fish (Abbas et al., 1994).
The plant, classed as an oilseed rather than a pulse by the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization, produces significantly more protein per acre than most
other uses of land (Akhterand and Sneller, 1996). The genus Glycine Willd. is
divided into two subgenera, Glycine and Soja. The subgenus Glycine consists of at
least 25 wild perennial species: for example, Glycine canescens F.J. Herm. and G.
tomentella Hayata, both found in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Perennial
soybean (Neonotonia wightii) originated in Africa and is now a widespread pasture
crop in the tropics. Like some other crops of long domestication, the relationship of
the modern soybean to wild-growing species can no longer be traced with any
degree of certainty. It is a cultural variety with a very large number of cultivars
Soybean meal is a significant and cheap source of protein for animal feeds and
many packaged meals. For example, soybean products, such as textured vegetable
protein (TVP), are ingredients in many meat and dairy substitutes. The beans
contain significant amounts of phytic acid, dietary minerals and B vitamins. Soy
vegetable oil, used in food and industrial applications, is another product of processing the soybean crop. Traditional non-fermented food uses of soybeans include soy milk from which tofu and tofu skin are made.