Not soy good

Usually if you mention soy beans to people, hippies and vegetarians tend to spring to mind.

It turns out that only around 10% is consumed directly as foods such as tofu and mock meat. 20% is used for making table oil and as for the rest, roughly 70 percent of the soybean harvest ends up as soybean meal to be consumed by livestock and poultry. 

Yes, we meat eaters and lovers of dairy products, the cause of livestock’s long shadow in terms of the environment are to blame… yet again. 

World consumption of meat was around 44 million tons back in 1950, but reached a staggering 280 million tons in 2009, a sixfold rise. Can you imagine that many animals? It’s mind-boggling. All those creatures have to be fed something, and soy based feed is very popular due to its price balanced with nutritional content.

A couple of years ago I wrote about the impact of soybean farming on the Amazon. According to an article on the Earth Policy Institute site, things in Brazil really haven’t slowed down since that time. Brazil’s soy bean production last year was in excess of 60 million tons, well up on the 2005-2006 growing year that produced around 53.4 million tonnes of soybeans.

The popularity of the soy bean puts Brazil’s commitment to dramatically reduce deforestation under threat as there’s simply too much cash involved. 

The solution? The Earth Policy Institute, instead of pointing the finger at Brazil’s government, points it at all of us and says the obvious – we all should reduce our meat consumption. It may seem insignificant, but forgoing a hamburger on a regular basis, or making better hamburger choices, could help save a very small slice of the Amazon.

The Earth Policy Institute also offers a less popular solution, (if that were possible):

“Saving the Amazon rainforest now depends on curbing the growth in demand for soybeans by stabilizing population worldwide as soon as possible.”

At least they used the term “stabilizing population” rather than “population control“. I’ve made that mistake before :).