The Unforeseen Problems of Soy

Attention to all soya consumers

Tiago Miranda
Oct 17 · 5 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

This article might create distrust about your political drive on eating soya. I am not saying that meat is the best replacing option though. I agree about the dangers of the processed meat industry, including the environmental issues and the junk food industry behind it.

However, this is something contradictory that it has not been touched lately and it is about soy. After reading this, you may be convinced, soya eater, that you are possibly one of the contributors of a massive spread out corruption, lobbying, social inequality, deforestation, GMO (Genetic Modified Organism), monoculture, criminal bushfire, trade war, labour exploitation, and displacement of local industries and farmers happening today.

Okay. You might be asking yourself by now, “why? Why should I be worried about all this? Should I believe in you?”. Well, I do not think is about believing nor having faith. I think is about the reality, the dirty reality of soy as a commodity. And we are all in it together.

To develop this theme further, I will use Brazil and China, both massive producers and consumers of soy respectively. Also, both leaders of the Group of Five (G5), and both with a huge rate of poverty and unemployment throughout the country.

For starters, China consumes great amounts of meat, more specifically pork. It is part of their millenary food culture, and it is common having pork on traditional dishes throughout the country. They arrived at a stage of massive cultivation of pigs. The pig farms are colossal, with thousands of pigs thrown into small spaces, making them poo and oink on top of each other. I guess we are on the same page so far, dear advocate soya eaters.

Nevertheless, most of those pigs have a simple diet of grains. A fat diet willing to make them bigger than usual in a short time. The main grain is nothing more than soy. China used to cultivate soy back in the days, but not anymore. Nowadays, it is cheaper for China to import soy than to cultivate it.

One of the reasons that China stopped cultivating soy is because of the huge costs and labour intensity behind the cause. Also, the large amounts of water that it needs to be relocated every year is unsustainable and hardworking. It was too costly, so they decided to import instead. It is a smart move from a country’s economic perspective in a world of capitalism.

A few countries are leading the soy production worldwide, but none of them are larger than Brazil. This country located southeast of South America with the larger landmass and economy of the region produces tons of soy every year. So much soy that you could have a Europe size continent outside of Europe. It is humongous.

So huge that one-third of the country has been deforested for soy plantation. The whole soya market in Brazil is profited more by an American company called Cargill than any other Brazilian company, which is linked to the large agribusiness industry of the country.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Bhupesh Talwar on Unsplash

After the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, the agribusiness became even more powerful, making Brazil allocates all its economic eggs in one basket only. In doing so, they rely almost 78% on soy export for most of the country revenue. This is insane.

This frenzy economical model intensifies labour and machinery work. It concentrates more wealth on the minority’s hands, increasing the social inequality gap. This inequality comes from the monopoly of soy production and the dismantling of local farmers that before were producing a variety of grains. But now, they have to forcibly grow soy under several political and economic restrictions.

Specialists associate this whole conundrum of Brazil impoverishment and rural degradation followed by deforestation, with China during the Mao Zedong period of governance from 1949 to 1976. This period was well-known as the genocide of the Chinese population, whereas millions of people died concerning the political agenda towards the rural areas.

These rural areas were allocated at the time for more than a half of the country’s food production by agriculture primitive standards. The only difference to Brazil is that President Bolsonaro is doing a Monoculture Revolution instead. Not far from worst though.

Mao during his governance had sacrificed the future of the country for his wealth after implementing the Great Leap Forward policy that led to the deaths of more than 45 million people. He murdered his people for the prosperity of a few. Of course, today is far-flung of happening again, but not so far in Brazil.

President Bolsonaro is destroying reserves after reserves, forests after forests, rivers after rivers, slowly until there is nothing left, unless someone can stop him.

One of the possible moves that can save Brazil is an educated population that can recognise the truth. The only thing we can do is to understand and avoid whatever out there that links to this political disgrace.

Most of the bushfires happening in Brazil at the moment, such as Pantanal and Amazon, have been related to land possession. A type of land that one way or another will be used by the agribusiness industry. This business relies heavily on soy production, which it keeps pumping capital into the country by exportation, mainly to China.

A great part of the soy arriving in China is being used to feed pigs, making them grow fat. That said, the pork industry grows quickly and cheaply in China, because they spend less importing soy from Brazil and produces more meat in the country that ultimately it can feed their entire population under Brazil’s environmental disasters.

These environmental disasters cause massive turmoil worldwide, increasing the political-economic conflicts among countries involved with climate change policies. Considering that the majority of soy land in Brazil is related to the region of Bolsonaro’s voters, it justifies why the vast agribusiness industry controls the country economic situation.

If you did not get it yet, Bolsonaro is a massive advocator of agribusiness in the country, which consecutively it makes our life worsen in the rest of the world. Local problems affecting global issues.

Maybe from now on, you may consider not eating soya, or more likely change your political ideas of being vegan or vegetarian relying on soy as a protein source only. This article may prove that the impact of soy is as horrendous as the meat industry. It could even change your mind overnight about your diet. Or just make you reconsider if is worthwhile neglecting a cause that could determine the future of new generations for good. Who knows?

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store