The soybean has afforded the industrial giants the perfect raw materials for an entirely man-made creation - the first processed non-dairy meat and dairy substitute, a cheap way to prolong the shelf life of everything that arrives in a box.
This isn't just spin. This is nothing less than marketing genius.
In America, Britain and Europe, a tiny percentage of soy is sold as the fermented or traditionally separated products that make this product healthy and digestible. The vast majority is processed in oil and protein or dairy 'analogues': soy vegeburgers or sausages, soy protein isolate, soy flour and soy milk, cheeses, yoghurts and desserts.
According to Dr Kaayla Daniel, author of our cover story ". . . scientists have found so many inexpensive ways to improve or disguise the colour, flavour, 'bite characteristics,' 'mouth feel' and aftertaste of soy protein-based products that soy is now an ingredient in nearly every food sold at supermarkets and health food stores."
And it's no secret that soy is dangerous to your health. Copious scientific evidence has shown that unfermented soy damages the thyroid, plays havoc with the hormones, affects the nervous system, causes allergies and growth problems in children, and blocks the uptake of vital nutrients and enzymes.
Nevertheless, through massive lobbying and marketing campaigns, the soy giants have been relentless in their drive to market processed soy as a health promoter and an illness preventative. In November 1999, the US Food and Drug Administration caved in and agreed to allow manufacturers of soy food products to claim: "Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Since this decision, growth rates of soy-food sales have shot up by double digits. Then, in February of last year, the Solae Company, a major US manufacturer of processed soy products, filed a petition with the FDA for the ultimate accolade: the claim that soy prevents cancer. Although the FDA was expected to make its ruling in November 2004, the agency extended the deadline to hear the case for the opposition by the tiny Weston A. Price Foundation. Dr Daniel was among those presenting reams of evidence.
Eventually, Solae conceded that its original unqualified health claim was not exactly warranted. At first they proposed new, more ambiguous language, and then, when the Israeli government took the unprecedented step of issuing a health alert about soy, (see page 7). Solae finally withdrew its petition, its tail between its legs. At least for now.
In the meantime, if you still have some processed soy in your kitchen cupboard, you don't need to throw it out. New research shows that soy oil makes for an amazing lubricant for skateboards or door hinges, while soybeans provide a fantastic insect repellent. Mosquitoes avoid it like the plague. Those mozzies obviously know a thing or two.