/ ©: Adriano Gambarini / WWF-Brazil

Solving the soy problem

How much soy do you eat? Did you know that every bite of most commercially produced beef, fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products contains soy: a crop which has been linked to deforestation in valuable ecosystems?

Learn more from a new WWF report: The Growth of Soy: Impacts and Solutions
Most of us are unaware of just how much soy we consume.
Soy oil, which comes from processing soybeans, is used extensively in processed foods such as margarines, dressings and mayonnaise. More recently, soybean oil has also been used to produce biofuels for car engines and power plants.

Soy and you

You may not consume large quantities of soy directly. But the animals you eat do. 80% of the world’s soybean crop is fed to livestock, especially chickens.

So if you eat meat, cheese or eggs, or drink milk, chances are you’re indirectly consuming soybeans grown in biodiverse ecosystems that have been greatly reduced and fragmented to make space for soy plantations.

These include the Cerrado in Brazil, the Chaco Region in Argentina and the Atlantic Forest in Paraguay. Soy cultivation is even moving into the Amazon, the world’s biggest rainforest and a major carbon sink.

In other parts of the world where soy is also grown, such as India, China, and the US, the crop can also cause negative environmental impacts such as soil erosion and water contamination.

► More on the connection between soy & you
BLOG: Hungry for change? Saving the Cerrado savannah, one bacon butty at a time…[WWF-UK]

Unacceptable impacts, urgent solutions

At WWF, we are deeply concerned about irresponsible soybean plantation expansion. We are especially worried about deforestation, which leads to the loss of valuable natural habitats such as forests and savannahs, and the negative impacts on communities and workers.

One tool to tackle the problem is the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS). A multi-stakeholder initiative involving companies and civil society groups like WWF, the RTRS is the best available global solution with the potential to move the mainstream soy industry to adopt less destructive, more responsible practices.

Meanwhile, WWF tackles the impacts of soy on many fronts. Among other efforts, we are:
  • strengthening law enforcement and land use planning in producer countries
  • encouraging the use of degraded land for agricultural expansion
  • promoting more responsible consumption of livestock by consuming countries
  • investigating the potential of alternative, sustainable protein sources
 / ©: WWF / Richard Stonehouse
Consumers' purchasing decisions play a major role in influencing the way soy is grown and produced.
© WWF / Richard Stonehouse

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