The Growth of Soy: Impacts & Solutions

The Growth of Soy

Impacts & Solutions

Over recent decades, soy has undergone the greatest expansion of any global crop, threatening forests and other important natural ecosystems. This report explains the extent of the problem, the drivers behind it and how we all have a role to play in implementing solutions.

Think soy is something only vegetarians eat? Think again. Due to a rising demand worldwide for meat products, soy, the majority of which is used as animal feed, has become one of the world’s biggest crops.

But its growth has come at a cost. Millions of hectares of forest, grassland and savannah have been converted to agriculture, either directly or indirectly and with demand continuing to rise; more natural ecosystems will be lost – unless we take action.

The problems with soy are both urgent and largely invisible. Most of us are unaware of just how much soy we consume and what effect it is having on the planet. Valuable eco systems such as the Amazon, the Atlantic Forest, the Gran Chaco, the Cerrado and the American Grasslands are at risk.

Species that are threatened include the Jaguar, Maned Wolf and Giant Ant Eater. We urgently need to find ways to produce soy more responsibly, or these important natural ecosystems could be lost forever, along with the priceless biodiversity they support.

The Growth of Soy: Impacts and Solutions, presents an overview of the soy industry and the issues around it. It outlines the uses of soy, charts its extraordinary rate of growth, and presents the data on where soy is produced and consumed. We explore those regions most at risk from the expansion of soy production, as well as discuss its other environmental and social impacts. Finally, and most crucially, we look at some possible solutions for reducing soy’s footprint – and what you can do to help.

WWF believes that it is possible to produce soy without destroying forests and other important ecosystems. But this will require a concerted effort from many quarters: all along the soy production chain from producers to feed companies to manufacturers to retailers; from policymakers to financers to consumers.

The report is currently available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.


Download the report

In the last 50 years, the production of soy has grown tenfold, from 27 to 269 million tons. The total area of soy now covers over 1 million km2 – the total combined area of France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

 
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