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Farmers switching to SoybeansBecause of the soybean’s incredible profitability, many U.S. farmers shifting as much as four million of their six million available acres from corn crops to soybeans. While corn fetches a good price at $4 a bushel, soybeans sell for $11 a bushel and more — nearly twice as much as the price last year.

And this in spite of the fact that the overall popularity of soy-based consumer goods is trending downwards. Some consumers, at least, must be reading the increasing studies linking soy protein to deadly maladies — like the January 2006 announcement in the journal Circulation by none other than the AHA (American Heart Association) that soy does not lower cholesterol, does not prevent heart disease and does not deserve an FDA-approved soy heart health claim.

Number four on Michael Pollan’s "what-to-eat list" at the conclusion of his newest book, In Defense of Food, is "Avoid food products that carry health claims". He says that the American diet is in the grip of nutritionism. Once we start thinking about what we eat as only the sum of its nutrient parts (his term: "reductionist ideology") and begin focusing on protein, fiber and fat, he writes, we cede our understanding of food to the experts — since only scientists (and their popularizes, nutritionists and journalists) can explain the hidden realities of foods to us. Could this have happened in the case of SOYBEANS?

Many processed products marketed from soybeans are linked to cancer (especially breast cancer), reduced immunity, thyroid dysfunction, calcium deficits, reproductive disorders and mental decline according to Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD (The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food). I’m happy to say it’s one of the few health fads I just couldn’t swallow when it was first introduced in the ’60s. The taste was foul and lots of sweeteners and flavor enhancers had to be added. And then "bean-eaters" often seemed to be attended by an intermittent odor indicating maldigestion. But when there’s a profit to be turned, empirical observations that lead to health concerns needing sensible action become clouded. According to Farm Futures Magazine, soybean acreage will jump by six million this year. I hope they use all of it for soy-based ink, one of its finer applications.

Soybeans are cheaper to grow than corn, which just adds to their profitability. A recent University of Illinois study probably funded by Carghill or ADM ("supermarket to the world") projected that the cost of growing the average acre of corn was about $330. For soybeans, the cost was only $200. Agri-Biz teams with Ag-Universities working to make policy according to reductionist principles to make the big picture myopic for long enough to seduce too many earnest and smart-too-late husbandmen.

So here we go ’round the Mulberry bush again nearly 50 years later — surely it’s withered by now. Soy prices were skyrocketing in the 1960’s-70’s in response to the boom in the vegetarian/health food market. Farmers cleared land of centuries old trees, drained swamps, plowed, tilled, fertilized and sprayed pesticides. We now know, after half a century, that this undoubtedly contributed heavily to the extinction of many species of birds and aquatic life … and for what exactly?

Perhaps we don’t want to discover what other extinctions that another booming market for a product as reduced as the soybean might bring?

Contributing Author Lynn Cameron owns the AromaVital.com website and has conducted her own research into the complementary health field since the early seventies.

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5 Comments for "U.S. Farmers Shifting from Corn Crops to Soybeans"

  1. Mike

    Don’t know how to feel about this, they’re both delicious haha.

  2. Lynn Cameron

    Hey Mike, you’re sure right about how delicious corn and soy are. This is especially true since so much of it is not only GMO in the field but highly processed by the few huge food processors which pass it on to another few supermarkets and chain stores. Cargill, #19 for big in processing, in strategic alliance with Hain/Celestial Seasonings (#85) since 2003 now is the parent processor for Westbrae’s Westsoy; TofuTown, Imagine’s Soy Dream and many others. In North America alone small organic companies are being gobbled up by the conglomerates at a rapid rate since the relaxation of the “organic standard” in 2002. So, whether corn or beans, it’s being shoveled into the maw of the food industry structure and spit out the other end to the consumer with negative nutrient-density and at a high cost to the national health.

    I think we need a National Real Food Awareness political platform instead of a National Health Care Plan. Support the NRFA and you won’t need an NHCP.

  3. Diane Vigil

    > Support the NRFA and you won’t need an NHCP.

    I love that one, Lynn. Quite agree.

  4. Lynn Cameron

    I want to amend this in view of recent blog indications that National Health Care IS everyone’s top priority.
    Support the NRFA because they will be the ones working to fund the NHCP.

    On a slightly hopeful note, cultivation of conventional soybeans (as opposed to GMO seed) is on the increase. The University of Mississippi Delta Research Center says the tried and true conventional varieties are replacing genetically engineered Roundup Ready beans. The reason farmers are choosing conventional seeds is lower seed costs plus lower weed control costs along with comparable or higher yields.

    Roundup herbicide, required for growing Roundup Ready GMO seed cost $15 gal. in 2007; now it’s up to $50 gal according to http://www.nwrage.org. Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, increases the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer (Journal of the American Cancer Society, 3/15/99).

    Let’s all keep up LOUD DEMAND for non GMO food and mandated labeling as such. Apparently it’s working.

  5. Diane Vigil

    Thanks, Lynn. To be honest, I’ve never understood the GMO approach (other than as a method of garnering locked-in customers — farmers — for "one and done" seeds) simply because I don’t see the need. Seems to me that plants are doing just fine, so why the need to modify?

    That said, I’ve seen some interesting results from splicing plants together, but that’s not quite the same as GMO.

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