Op-Ed Spotlight by Scott Fritz

10:02AM Jul 19, 2012
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Soybean farmers have always known their crop has many valuable uses. Feeding kids is the one closest to many of our hearts. Therefore, we launched the World Soy Foundation, which reduces malnutrition through the power of soy.
We know that children do not live by soy alone. That’s why the World Soy Foundation works hard to train parents, cooks and companies to take advantage of how easily soy is added to wheat, corn, rice, cassava and more. The resulting nutritious and delicious foods are as diverse as groundnut stew in Africa, to soy doughnuts in Central America, to naan bread in Afghanistan.
In 2000, an economic forecast showed us the enormous growing demand for protein in developing countries. This role for soy motivated state soybean organizations to ask the American Soybean Association (ASA) to lead a new program, the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), to introduce soy to markets in some of the fastest-growing populations and economies in the world.
Our work in developing countries soon gave us firsthand exposure to the enormous and immediate need for protein, particularly for children. Kids are kids no matter whether home is Minneapolis, Maputo or Mumbai. Their journey to health, happiness and a productive life starts with good nutrition that includes protein. Lack of protein in the early years is a life sentence of stunting of mind and body in children.
Thus, the World Soy Foundation, a 501c3 humanitarian organization, was born. U.S. soybean farmers have supported the World Soy Foundation in many ways, including giving personally through our Acre Challenge, described at www.worldsoyfoundation.org.
As a result, kids like Francisca in Ghana now know why soybeans are called the miracle crop. Her family and teachers were concerned at her lack of energy. The World Soy Foundation partnered with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency to provide soymilk to Francisca’s school. Her family and teachers credit soy for the fact that she soon bubbled with energy and had perfect school attendance. Her newfound strength not only allowed Francisca to learn. It gave her hope and a dream—Francisca decided to become a doctor.
To feed more kids like Francisca, farmers on the board of the World Soy Foundation recognized that we needed partnerships. One of those partners is Solae, a DuPont business. Solae uses soy to make high-protein food ingredients found in many of the foods we eat here in the United States as well as around the world.
On July 10, DuPont released an important new interactive tool to help those of us who are committed to feeding kids with the power of soy. DuPont sponsored the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Food Security Index. The Global Food Security Index is a unique tool that can promote collaborations across the food value chain, generate insights and stimulate action – locally – to feed our growing population. It is an important tool for two reasons: The Index looks beyond hunger to the underlying factors affecting food insecurity. And, the study will employ an adjustment factor for food price fluctuations to examine the risk countries face throughout the course of the year.
As a result, soybean farmers, policymakers, hunger organizations and others will be better able to measure and predict many outcomes, including the protein gap, in 105 countries. DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman spoke to the ASA board of directors on the day DuPont announced the Index and said, "What gets measured, gets done."
I encourage you to take a look at the Index at foodsecurityindex.eiu.com and consider all that it will take to improve food security for children.
There is no doubt that soybeans are going to be even more important in the future as world population is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050. That’s the equivalent of adding a city the size of New York every six weeks.
I hope you will join Farmers Feeding the World and the World Soy Foundation. Together, we can feed even more kids!
Scott Fritz and his wife, Karen, raise soybeans on their farm in Pulaski County, Ind. Scott serves on the World Soy Foundation board of directors, ASA board of directors and the WISHH Program Committee. For more information, go to www.worldsoyfoundation.org