The problem with soy

The problem with soy

To say that we're not fans of soy would be an understatement.

So why are we so against it?

It's easy, soy is often grown in a way that is destructive to the environment and has a negative impact on human health when consumed unfermented

Since the 1950s, global soybean production has increased 15 times over. The United States, Brazil, and Argentina together produce about 80% of the world’s soy. China imports the most soy and is expected to significantly increase its import of the commodity.

We all know that soy is fed to cattle in the industrial-farming-commodity-complex, producing terrible meat and impoverishing the land and communities. Soy production is wreaking havoc on the Amazon rainforest.

However, what is less well known is that the vast majority of soy is grown to create soy oil and soy meal. The oil is used by humans, and the meal left from processing the oil becomes animal feed for cattle, pigs and poultry.

Anyone who knows us will know that we are absolutely against feeding cattle and sheep anything other than pasture. The tragedy is that our land is wonderful and lush and green, but we just don’t use it to produce enough home-grown meat, leading to global industrial food chains with massive carbon costs, and the soya blight.

So, what's so bad about soya bean production?

We on a very simple level it's a mono-crop meaning it grows alone and in USA and Brazil that is over 100,000,000 tonnes in each country per-year of a crop that is not a part of an ecosystem. Mono-crop production destroys the soil ecology, leading to ecological wastelands; increased dependency on pesticides and artificial fertilisers, deforestation and diminishment of crop’s natural resistances.

In the USA as much as 91% of soybean is transgenic meaning it is GMO and has been modified to be resistant to Glyphosate otherwise known as Roundup. What this means is that it can be sprayed with the herbicide without dying and all other plants in the field that night compete with it are killed, it’s also toxic to rhizobia, the bacterium that fixes nitrogen in the soil

Glyphosate was patented in 1961 and is the most widely used herbicide worldwide. Six billion kilograms have been released globally in the last decade alone, and concerns have steadily been growing.

As early as 1985, glyphosate was categorized as a Class C carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency. Class C states there is suggestive evidence of causing cancer. A 2017 study by the European Chemical Agency concluded that the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen.

The most recent meta-analysis (reference) published in 2019, states that there is a compelling link between non-Hodgkins lymphoma and glyphosate but that's not even the whole story, some research suggests that glyphosate may be an endocrine disruptor. It has also been linked to liver disease, birth defects and reproductive problems in laboratory animals; and may kill beneficial gut bacteria and damage the DNA in human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.

A 2019 (reference) study in a Nature journal reported increases in obesity, reproductive and kidney diseases, and other problems in the second- and third-generation offspring of rats exposed to glyphosate.

The science behind the health risks to humans of Roundup (Glyphosate and other chemicals to enhance uptake such as surfacants) is contentious, which is not surprising as billions of dollars are at stake and Monsanto (the biggest manufacturer of glyphosate in the world) claimed that the WHO cherry-picked research, ignoring at least a dozen studies showing glyphosate to be non-genotoxic and not carcinogenic…but it came out that all of those studies were funded by either Monsanto or another company in the chemical business.

Regardless of the level of danger to humans our biggest problem is that it destroys ecosystems and instead of working with nature these methods of farming are chemically dependent and not sustainable.

Regarding the health impacts of the soy its self Dr Kaayla Daniel, nutritionist and author of The Whole Soy Story is very concerned. 'Thousands of studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, thyroid problems, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, immune system breakdown, even heart disease and cancer,’ she argues. ‘Possible benefits are far outweighed by proven risks.'

Many people will argue that soy has been eaten in many countries in Asia for a long time with no health problems but this is misleading. Much of the soy consumed in the far east is fermented in some way to make foods like tempeh, natto and tamari and average consumption of soy foods in Japan and China is 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) per day. Asians consume soy foods in small amounts as a condiment, and not as a replacement for animal foods.

Most modern soy foods are not fermented to neutralize toxins in soybeans. They are processed in a way that denatures proteins and increases levels of carcinogens.

Many meat substitutes such as The Impossible Burger contain measurable amounts of Glyphosate in their products as a result of using GMO soy, meaning their customers are directly ingesting this chemical.

The levels of glyphosate detected in the Impossible burger by Health Research Institute Laboratories were 11 X higher than the Beyond Meat Burger. The total result (glyphosate and its break down AMPA) was 11.3 ppb.

So why are we so worked up about this as an online butcher in the UK?

At Ethical Butcher, we contrast millions of hectares around the world growing a single crop being sprayed with weed-killer so that nothing else can live, to a field of diverse organic pasture with a complex ecosystem with many trophic levels.

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