Around the world, there is a surging demand for soy—the “king of beans.” Soy is a globally traded commodity produced in both temperate and tropical regions and serves as a key source of protein and vegetable oils. 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.
Soy is pervasive in our lives. Not only are soybeans made into food products like tofu, soy sauce, and meat substitutes, but we also eat them in the form of soybean oil and soybean meal. Soybean meal is widely used as animal feed, so we humans consume much of it indirectly via our meat and dairy. Soybeans also reach our tables as oil—which represents around 27% of worldwide vegetable oil production. While its most common oil-based form is table oil, soy is increasingly used for biodiesel production.
Without proper safeguards, the soybean industry is causing widespread deforestation and displacement of small farmers and indigenous peoples around the globe. To ensure that soybean expansion does not further harm natural environments and indigenous communities, WWF is encouraging the development of better production practices. We call for transparent land-use planning processes and promote responsible purchasing and investment policies.
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