Soy and the Amazon

Not soy good.

Soy is increasingly appearing in the headlines; for all the wrong reasons. Some have suggested that a diet heavy in soy products can cause all sorts of health problems – but doesn’t everything these days?

Supposed health issues aside; if you consume a lot of soy – and most of us do in some form as it’s added to so many products, have you asked yourself where it comes from?

Deforestation of the Amazon is something most of us are familiar with, but usually in relation to logging and cattle grazing. Did you know that Brazil is now one of the world’s largest exporters of soy beans? And guess where most of the crop comes from – the Amazon area. Over the 2005-2006 growing year, Brazil produced over 53.4 million tonnes of soybeans

In a double-whammy for meat eaters it also appears that one of the major uses for these soy beans is as feed for livestock. So whether you’re a vegetarian or omnivore; the chances are your diet consists to some extent of soy sourced from the Amazon.

While deforestation of the Amazon has decreased somewhat in recent years due to a drop in commodity pricing, including the price of soy beans; any further deforestation is just continuing the environmental disaster.

There’s no point in rejoicing too much over a 30%, 40% or even a 50% decrease in clearing in a year and allowing those responsible some breathing space; the destruction still continues of what is a rapidly diminishing resource. It needs to stop totally. Now. The pressure must be kept up – beware of rubbery figures.

Another monster looms on the horizon that could see the pace of Amazonian destruction increase again – biofuels. The yield of every soy bean is 80 percent meal and 20 percent oil.

I used to be so positive about the biofuel industry, but I’m fearful of where it may lead us in terms of other forms of environmental degradation. It’s part of the answer to some of our problems, sure, but it will lead us into a false sense of security that we can drive as much as we like and be “earth-friendly”. For example, the grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol could feed one person for a year.

Would you be happy filling your tank with a fuel that was sourced in part from the clearing of a rainforest or any sort of other natural forest?

Does the thought of your soy, in whatever form, perhaps coming from the Amazon disturb you?

It’s all food for thought.

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