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Posts Tagged ‘health’

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Rows of soybeans at a farm in Wisconsin, U.S.A

Soy beans. Cancer causing or cancer preventing? Are there environmental impacts? If so, how large? What is there to do about it if there are?

I now can’t ignore a curiosity I have about one or all of those questions. I certainly would like to know if something I ate caused cancer. Wouldn’t you?

There is a lot of talk about soy products in relation to some of these questions and answers are not being addressed as “world news”. An article was released in the online World News Network that emphasizes benefits of soy. For example they mention that “Americans ate nearly 500 tons of modified soy, and feel just fine.” Many people will read this and feel content with their knowledge and consumption of soy products.

Soy products have become a trendy health food over the past decade or so.  It is emphasized how the protein content of soybeans is so high and thus many people eat them in place of other foods that normally provide the protein content of a “healthy diet”. If you do a search for general information on soy products you will most likely come across something mentioning how “Soybeans are considered a source of complete protein, i.e., protein that contains significant amounts of all the essential amino acids that must be provided to the human body.” (Global Oneness)

Many sites echo these thoughts talking about “soy’s culinary versatility and exceptional health benefits”(The Worlds Healthiest Foods) and how “the amino acid profile of soy protein is nearly equivalent in quality to meat, milk and egg protein” (National Soybean Research Laboratory)

If you were to look up information on soy or ask someone personally, most knowledge is similar to what I mention here.  Being someone who does not know a lot about specifics on nutrition I am pleased to read these facts.

Looking a bit further, I found more information on health related issues with soy products. It turns out that there is plenty of information that opposes general facts and knowledge about soy products. One article notes that,

It is lacking in the sulfur containing amino acid methionine…[which is] particularly important for…proper immune system function, and the body’s production of…one of the most important anti-oxidants…[which] serves to detoxify a variety of harmful compounds such as carcinogens.(Body Building For You)

Another article looks at nutritional value of soybeans and states that “only fermented soy products are safe” which include miso—made into soup—among very few other forms. The article also suggests that “modern soy products including soy milks and artificial meat and dairy products…pose a number of serious problems.”(Concerns Regarding Soybeans)

Soy products and cancer? In the same article it is mentioned that, “some researchers believe the rapid increase in liver and pancreatic cancer in Africa is due to the introduction of soy products there.” Others emphasize cancer preventing facts, “that soy products may be helpful both in preventing cancer and in helping to treat it” (Institute for Traditional Medicine)

Personal health aside, there are also global health issues related to soy. The excitement over this product has put it in high public demand and so cultivation rushes to meet. In an article written by Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) it is articulated that “The most serious problems caused by soy monocultures are linked to their continued expansion” which involves cutting down forests to make room for large crops. The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) agrees that expansion is a huge issue, they also suggest that genetically modified soy would leave a smaller footprint and so there must be a global standard of cultivation in order to limit exploitation.

To counter this, the FOEI explains that,

Because of the sheer size of territory currently used for soy production, even the use of legally permitted agrochemicals leads to massive pollution of the countryside in the producing countries, causing depletion of freshwater resources of Indigenous Peoples and rural communities, biodiversity loss, and numerous health problems amongst the rural population, often with fatal consequences.

As may be deduced from this, there is a lot of conflicting evidence about personal and global health benefits of soy but the reality is that there continues to be a demand for soy products. The information that is accessible to people tends to favour particular perspectives—the pro-soy perspective.

It is important to stay informed on studies and updated information on foods such as soy, as to turn your entire life over to a bean, it would seem logical to explore every aspect of that bean as possible; to be informed on every angle, every perspective. It is our duty as consumers to not take information blindly; personal research is necessary in order to have an informed perspective.

Soybeans mean so much more to me now than a tasty culinary supplement; there are a lot more than proteins packed into that tiny green shell, and it is definately news worthy on a global level.

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For several years now, the controversy of genetically modified organisms (GMO) has been a great ally of writers and bloggers around the media world.  Many bloggers write about their opinions regarding GMO’s; some of the writers defend them but a vast majority attack and disbelieve that GMO’s are good for one’s health.  First and foremost, it is necessary to note that GMO’s are something new to our generation and for this reason many people consider them harmful and unethical.  However, one must ask if they are really malign because they are something that is new to us or because they really affect our health.
In my opinion, I believe that GMO’s are simply not healthy because they are genetically corrupted foods and the properties of the modified goods are changed and lost when they are altered. However, I must argue that ignorance and lack of knowledge on the matter in our society helps fuel the controversy of whether GMO’s are right or wrong.  Some people believe that GMO’s, if not controlled, will change the course of our generation. Whether it is for good or for bad that is yet to be seen, but what is certain is that they will play a major roll in future generations.
Some media bloggers argue that GMO’s can be beneficial in underdeveloped nations where not everyone has proper access to food. They believe that modified food can allow people to consume balanced diets, because modified goods can certainly permit them to eat all kinds of vital organisms.  An example of such benefit is adding vitamins to oranges in order to fight seasonal flues.
However, GMO’s can also be used to make people addicted to food, and this way allow food companies to take advantage of them.  Some fast food chains use GMO’s to make their products more profitable at the expense of the consumers.  In some cases, some companies have tried to pass a law that would allow them to serve and produce food without having to state where their food came from.  In my opinion this would be a major negative effect on all consumers. This would allow companies not only to decide how consumers will be treated, but also make them even more addicted to their products.
As stated before, behind all this controversy sits the media which takes advantage of such debate to make up stories and help their writing profit.  As seen in the reading, “All news are local” one can see how media reporters and writers customize their stories to appeal to a certain public.  One can see how news reporters draw off in certain events to make their news more popular in certain areas.  In regards to GMO’s, one does not see many underdeveloped citizen bloggers arguing against GMO’s simply because they do not understand the matter or because it is simply not relevant to their societies.  However, one can see how, in developed countries, several people talk and write about genetically modified organisms, simply because they affect, in one way or another, their lives.
Most writers base their articles on juicy stories in which they deal with local citizens.  All news are local, means that they are only relevant to the people that are directly affected.  For an American citizen to read that a child is dying of starvation in Africa does not make any difference, but for the very same American to read that the next time he goes to a fast food stand and the food that he will consume there will affect his health, this may make a difference and hence, he or she will be more interested in reading such a news.
Lastly, it is proper to note that news regarding GMO’s are mainly focused for developed countries, and for the very same reason that they are believed to be harmful to people is that they are such a good story for reporters. They deal directly with the average citizen therefore the media can take advantage of such a controversial matter.  GMO’s not only help food chains to be more profitable but also local news writers to get their stories across to more people. In conclusion, GMO’s need to be controlled in order to protect everyone’s health.

-Santiago Dominguez

Work cited:
R Stanton. All News is Local. Chapter 9& 10: Citizens and Participation & Conclusion. 170-200. Copyright 2007 Richard Stanton.
Nestle, Marion. Food Politics.  UC Press: Berkeley, 2003.  Selected

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