A soya bean is a real super bean. You can use it for just about anything; the production of mayonaise, sandwiches, cookies, and the production of animal food. Soya contains a lot of egg whites. Because of that nutrition, pigs and cows grow faster then when they would only eat grass and potatoes.
"Hey look! The beans are still in their pods." Pedro tears a handful of soya plants from the ground. He stands in the middle of a vast plane, close to the city, where he lives. Everywhere you look, soya grows.
"Few farmers still live here,”"says Pedro. "There is no work for them. On the soya fields hardly any people live. Everything is done by giant machines, airplanes and computers."
The vast farmlands of Argentina are called . In the old days cows would graze there. Now a large part of this fertile land is covered in soya. Many soya plantations are larger as fifty soccer fields combined. The owners are not farmers but companies. They rent the land. pampa
To grow soya is easy. You do not have to plough the soil: you just straw the seeds on top of the ground. For sawing, you only need three people. Two to man the sawing machines, and one with a mobile phone to oversee everything.
Will Matías succeed in forcing this little bull to its knies?
Watch the video below.
Joel continues explaining. "In another neighbourhood poison entered via the soil in to the drinking water. The mothers were furious. That's why they went to the judge. They had proof the poison triggers cancer. The judge said they were right. The ones that were responsible for spraying poison were send to jail. Spraying near residential areas is now forbidden".
With a few classmates, Joel shows the soya field nearby.
"For a long time there were no birds or insects to be seen. The poison had killed them all. But now we are happy to see them again."
Argentinean soya beans are intended for export. They are transported in big containers to other countries, like The Netherlands.
Most soya beans are made into flour or chunks. The soya chunks are intended for the meat industry. Farmers like feeding their animals soya. They want their cattle to grow fast. Worldwide more and more people are eating meat, eggs and dairy products. For breeding all those animals, you need a lot of feed concentrates, power food: Soya. But these super beans have their downsides too.
Soya plantations are bigger than fifty soccer fields combined.
Blades of grass
You need a lot of land for soya. Matías (12) helps his father with feeding the 1.800 cows. These cows stand on a muddy piece of land behind barbed wire. Not a blade of grass in sight. No grassland is to be seen in the vicinity anyways, because all land is to be used for growing soya. On a tractor with a trailer Matias rolls by there mangers. With a lever he can automatically fill the mangers.
"I really like aiming right," Matias says.
On top of that, a lot of forest is being cut down for creating soya fields. Matías says: "Per day a cow eats twelve kilo's of soya-, corn and sunflower wheat. That makes them nice and fat."
Soja verbouwen heeft nog een nadeel. Er wordt veel gif op gespoten. Dat gebeurt vanuit de lucht met sproeivliegtuigjes. Door het gif gaat het onkruid dood dat tussen de soja groeit en sterven de schadelijke insecten. De soja blijft leven.
Maar als de wind verkeerd staat, waait het gif ook naar huizen en scholen. Joel (11) zit op een school waar vaak gif naartoe waaide. “Veel kinderen hebben nu last van huidziektes, allergieën en ademhalingsproblemen. Dat komt door het gif.”
About soya there are a lot of arguments. Most soya seeds are being enhanced, made stronger, in a lab. They are now so strong that the plants will not die of pesticides (poison against weed).
Soya companies say: without poison and strong seeds we cannot produce enough cattle feed. Opponents say: ‘soya from the lab triggers cancer’.
Scientists say: ‘You cannot prove it provokes cancer’.
In the meantime something does change: some soya farmers or companies use less dangerous poison. They take better care of the environment and the health of people. Their soya is called 'responsible' soya.
Pedro: "The big silos behind me are filled with soya beans. It all goes abroad."