When I first began making products I considered using soy as an alternative to synthetic paraffin wax in our candles. After all, I’m all about natural and want to use the best organic ingredients I can find. I read some pretty scary articles about the soy industry but not being one to blindly accept anything, I decided to revisit the research. I found this very informative article written by Small Footprint Family. It essentially backed up my previous opinions on soy.*
* I do not expect everyone to share our beliefs, however, the beliefs below are mine.
For starters, why soy?
Soy has been commercially manufactured since at least the 1950s, probably longer but I wasn’t doing an essay on agricultural history. Soy use wasn’t prolific during the ’50s and 60’s, despite commercial manufacturing, due to studies showing evidence of adverse effects such as sterility and cardiovascular disease in animals. Brilliant marketing professionals decided that the only way to surmount this was to make the competition look even scarier. In came the demonization of saturated fats in the 1980s. Saturated fat consumption was linked to heart disease and the American public began “low-fat” and “fat-free” diets. Restaurants substituted vegetable oils, to include soybean oil, for the evil tropical oils (avocado, coconut, palm oil, etc). Legitimate consumer interest groups participated in multi-million dollar campaigns to rid the U.S. food industry of saturated fats. The soy industry, campaigning for the “health benefits” of soy, absolutely thrived. Soy made up about 80% of the oils on the market. (Side note: If you haven’t heard, the vast majority of the info about saturated fat has been retracted or disproven. Hello, keto.)
The only problem was that the evidence didn’t lie. Not only was soy linked to a slew of health issues but so were many of the vegetable oils. Hydrogenated vegetable oils are full of trans fat. In 2002, the U.S. Institute of Medicine finally acknowledged that trans fat (a key ingredient in hydrogenated vegetable oils) is not. Edit: Nearly four years after I originally wrote this, on June 18, 2018, the U.S. FDA has banned all artificial trans fats from our food.
With the U.S. food industry going back to the healthier (and ironically, better for the heart) saturated fats, the soy industry began to suffer. The industry broadened their horizons and soy was offered as an alternative to almost any consumable product. This includes soy milk, oils, candles, baby formula. This is very troubling when you realize that the majority of soy is genetically modified. Think that GMOs are no big deal? Then you should read this article about how they impact your organs. Or how about this article from January that states that “In North America, approximately 75 to 89% of the soybeans grown are genetically modified (GM)…recent research found that GM soy is toxic to the kidneys, liver, and more.” Read the full article here.
There are many who choose to ignore the research, find contradictory research (I fully acknowledge research on GMOs is very contradictory!), or just flat out don’t believe it. Many claim there are not enough peer-reviewed studies full of empirical data to support these claims. Dig deeper and you will see the that scientists have been silenced. Even if you choose to question it, why are we feeding this to babies?
So why I insist that my company care about soy? Simple. I care about my customers. There are studies linking soy to allergies. The links may be tenuous but if up to nearly 90% of soy in the U.S. is genetically modified and studies show that genetically modified foods contribute to or worsen allergies, then that is enough for me to avoid it in my candles and skin-care products.