Soybeans are Poisoning South America

Dry Harvest

Creative Commons License photo credit: SugarCreekPhoto

Illinois Prisoners are Not the Only Ones Suffering the Toxic Effects of Soy Foods

by Maria van Heemstra, Guest contributor

This is my response to the recent press release by the Weston A. Price Foundation about prisoners and school children in Illinois being targeted by aggressive marketing of soy foods.

The threat of children being the targets for meals of toxic soybeans is not at all far fetched.  In fact, this has already been happening for years in Argentina through soy food aid.  Rural populations whose traditional food crops and grass-fed cattle have been displaced to make way for the cultivation of GMO soybeans have now no choice but to eat soybeans.  Ironically, the large monocultures of soybeans, generously sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate (Round-up), grown for export to feed the pigs, cows and poultry of Europe and China, are being proposed as a solution to fight malnutrition for poor Argentinians.  Even churches, who should be speaking out about the problem of soybeans in Latin America, are not saying anything because some are accepting donations of soy to distribute to their congregations.  For an analysis of the phenomenon see the article entitled: “Genetically Modified Soya in Food Aid Programmes” by Elizabeth Bravo.

Hidden in The Health Claims for Soy Are Huge Profits

It is important to be concerned about whether eating GMO soybeans or eating soybeans at all is good for our health or not. Soybeans themselves, however, are not the culprit.  We should get to the root of why there is this push to replace our customary foods with soybean based products and look at the other issues around growing soybeans, particularly GMO soybeans.

If there is such a push it is because some one is making a lot of money from selling soybeans.

Multinational companies like Monsanto, Sygenta, who produce the seed and chemicals for GMO soybeans, and Cargill and other companies which ship the beans, have a strategic plan, which they have been implementing since 2006, to turn Latin America into a large soybean monoculture. Little by little, through aggressive incentive policies, not devoid of violence, they have been spreading the crop in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia and placing soybean processing plants in strategic ports for export. The various aspects of this plan are described in the book, United Soy Republics: The Truth about Soy Production in South America, available on line.

The book will demonstrate that the interest of these companies is not to solve world hunger or protect the environment but to reap great profits.

When American’s Switch to Soy Foods Are We Destroying South America?

Among the consequences of GMO soybeans in Latin America are:

–Displacement of small farmers as they cannot survive in the middle of large monocultures of soybeans sprayed with glyphosate from the air: check out the Crop-sprayed Villages of Argentina by Lilian Joensen.

–Direct glyphosate poisoning of children and adults from the sprays, see the Upside Down World website and Toxic Soy website.

The Global Eco-Calamity Wrought by the Soy Food Craze

This has a consequence on global climate change and nutrient flows.  The deforestation that occurs to make way for the soybeans causes local drying of the climate which has a snow ball effect of causing more forest fires and

Forest Fire

photo credit: Theo R

more drying of the climate therefore further deforestation and climate change. The threat of the entire region becoming desert is real, jeopardizing water supply for the entire continent. Furthermore, as soybeans are very efficient extractors of nutrients, enormous amounts of plant nutrients are being extracted from South American soils to end up in the oceans through European and Asian waterways by means of the animal manure. This leads to eutrophication, nitrate leaching, which then leads to destruction of mangroves, coral reefs and other marine ecosystems which are the nurseries for the world’s fish. See Corporate Europe’s report on Soy Greenwash.

The outcry against the excesses of soybean monocultures have forced the companies involved to react, therefore they adopted so-called “responsible soybean production”, which has the approval of some conservation organizations including the World Wildlife Federation.  However these methods do not solve the problem but only attempt to legitimize it and might in fact accelerate the rate of deforestation because they do not consider secondary forest to be valuable as forest. See: The Round Table on Ir-responsible Soy

The soybean issue illustrates what can happen when our foods, which are the basis for our health, culture, communities and survival, are considered to be mere commodities for exchange for financial profit.

Maria van Heemstra is a trained biologist (degree from the University of Geneva in 1975) and agronomist (PhD Soils and Crops, Rutgers University 1985). She has worked in genetics research and then with several NGOs as well as international organizations, and is presently working at the World Council of Churches, Geneva / Switzerland, on two projects (Faith, Science and Technology; and Health and Healing).   She has recently completed a specialization in Biosafety and Plant Genetic Resources Management. Nationality: USA and The Netherlands.

Editors Notes:

For an American campaign to warn the public of the health dangers posed by GMO Soy visit Jeffrey Smith’s Seeds of Deception website.

For more information about the WAPF Prison Soy case, see yesterday’s post, Publicist Notes on Prison Soy Case.

Still not convinced you should knock off the soy lattes and soy burgers?  See Dangers of Soy Explained by Health Activist.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays blog carnival on Food Renegade blog.


  1. Thank you for this article. I had no idea what was going on in South America (shame on me.)

    In the 1970s I was invited to a function at the Colorado Governor’s mansion where Argentinian beef was prepared for dinner. It was the most amazing meat I had ever eaten, very similar to what I eat today from my grass farmer. I had no idea that industry had been lost to soy farming. How tragic.
    .-= Local Nourishment´s last blog ..Start a buying club for great savings! =-.

  2. Thank you for such a succinct and well written informative post. I have been hearing increasing reports about the environmental dangers of soybeans and have long been avoiding them (just reading about Monsanto and watching ‘The World According to Monsanto’ was enough motivation!).
    Also, thank you so much for the links- I will be checking them out 🙂
    .-= EcoYogini´s last blog ..Estrogen Pee and Me! =-.

  3. Sylvia Onusic says:

    Dear Kim,

    Thanks so much for bringing this soy issue to the attention of your readers. Soy beans are one of the cheapest products marketed as food. But they are not food- food nourishes and runs the body.
    Prisoners have done wrong, but they are in prison to be rehabilitated, not for life, on our tax dollars– but how can they make a new start when they are treated so badly? !! Again, our tax dollars are paying for the soy beans. Anyone who has ever had a loved one in jail would ask for your understanding.

    And because of Roundup, the entire food chain is being polluted. Round up kills everything in its path. And we are ingesting that chemical when we eat GMO soy products, and so are the animals we eat as food which are raised in industrial farms. The Grand Soy Bean GMO experiment is US!! The food industry has convinced registered dieticians that soy is a Health Food-but it is no such thing. We read about drug companies paying ghost writers to write numerous articles about the safety of hormone replacement therapy to convince MD’s to prescribe it- and look what happened. Are ghost writers also writing articles on the health promoting aspects of soy?

    Soybeans were originally fed to animals to fatten them up. Look at our kids- they dont even have a fighting chance to avoid obesity and live a normal life when they are fed soybeans at school, in restaurants, and at home.

    Sylvia P. Onusic, PhD

  4. Andrea/True Nourishment says:

    I just wrote an article this week about the problem with soy. It is such a big issue and this part — ecosystem and local economies destruction — is the one that enrages me the most. It’s a great intro for anyone who has no idea about just how harmful soy is. Pass it on!

  5. Kimberly Hartke says:

    Hi everyone, a blog reader wrote me an email with this comment:

    The Rainforest Action Network in San Francisco has been working on this issue. The group is more well known among environmentalists than food people.


  6. Kimberly Hartke says:

    Look at this article by Organic Consumers Association about a scientist who found Roundup was endangering the ecosystem, he was threatened by a group of thugs:

  7. hi,
    we made some videoreports about the devastating effects of soy expansion in paraguay, as well as protests against it. You can find them on
    .-= steven´s last blog ..Globalise Hope =-.

  8. Kimberly Hartke says:

    This came in to my email inbox today, and it relates to this story, so I thought I would share it!



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