2013  •   Health Sciences

Ubiquitous Soy

Lead Presenter: Sean Kline

Soy is ubiquitous. Its cultivation is expedited by modern agriculture practices and generic engineering. It is extensively processed to fulfill the nutritional and material demands of our global economy. The industries of soy production and processing are substantial components of the United States economy and support volatile growth in developing economies. Benefits aside, we must question the merit of such prolific use of a single crop. Examined in the contexts of social, environmental, and consumer health, the volume of soy our world consumes and the means by which we produce and process it are troubling. æææScientists, health experts, and industry officials debate the risks and benefits of ingesting soy. Industry leaders promote their products as excellent sources of nutrients. Opponents are quick to note, soybeans contain more enzyme inhibitors and estrogenic compounds than any other legume, and that common cooking processes used by the soy industry are insufficient to deactivate these harmful chemicals. Reputable manufacturers, scientists, and health experts agree that soy as a crop is not inherently harmful to human health„the concern is with modern processing methods. æThe soy industry has innovated uses for nearly every byproduct of soy processing, resulting in a market saturated with soy-component-laced products, highly refined and chemically altered. Processing contaminates soy components with hazardous elements and compounds. Companies that market more affordable soy products use the most cost-effective and carcinogen-intense processes. It is valuable to be aware of which consumer products contain soy components, and how and by whom those components were derived.