In recognition of World Food Day, the United Soybean Board (USB) and the soybean check-off are showcasing the efforts of soybean producers to reduce world hunger and malnutrition with soy protein.

According to Sharon Covert, Illinois Soybean Check-off Board director, protein deficiency is a major cause of malnutrition, and because soybeans are high in protein content they can offer a solution to this growing problem in many developing countries.

Through the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), the soybean check-off is finding new uses for soy in the global battle against malnutrition. Each year, the United Nations' World Food Day works to bring attention to the fact while there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, more than 800 million people go to bed hungry.

Jim Hershey, director of the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health, says the check-off funded group currently has three projects launched in more than one-half dozen countries.

Steve Sonka, Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL) in Illinois says, “We are working closely with the soybean check-off boards to generate the tools required to meet the growing need for protein around the world.”

Income growth by itself will not move malnutrition levels down to the levels society wants to achieve. “As a flexible, desirable protein, soy is well designed to enhance those needs, Sonka says. “The soybean industry has done an excellent job of fueling demand in some geographical areas, but the growth in consumption will be in China, South Asia and Indian areas of the world. We need new strategies needed for those markets,” he says

“Soybean protein fits well into food manufacturing, which can generate economic activity making it more sustainable than just direct food aid,” adds Sonka.

Covert says, “One of the major challenges in introducing soy is that it be culturally acceptable. Soy-enhanced products must look and taste like local foods, and WISHH is successfully incorporating soy into local diets across the world.”