The soybean checkoff helped promote the health benefits, availability and convenience of soyfoods as part of April Soyfoods Month, as designated by the Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA).

"More and more new soyfoods and existing products that contain soy are becoming available," says United Soybean Board (USB) Chairman Don Latham, a soybean farmer from Alexander, Iowa. "The evidence that soy is a very healthy product continues to grow, and as a result the checkoff can continue to grow soy consumption through activities such as Soyfoods Month."

USB, along with some state soybean checkoff boards, soy processors and soyfood manufacturers co-sponsored soyfoods month activities carried out by SANA around the country. They included information kits distributed to major food retailers to conduct an April Soyfoods Month promotion program. SANA expects 22,000 grocery stores to promote soy and to conduct nearly 500 soyfood demonstrations in stores by the end of the month.

"Soybean checkoff investments made by U.S. soybean farmers helped fund the scientific research that demonstrated the link between soy protein consumption and the reduced risk of heart disease," says Latham. "Additional scientific research suggests soy has numerous other health benefits which can continue to significantly increase awareness of soyfoods and the consumption of the soybeans we grow."

The soybean checkoff is implementing a new program to document the growing amount of scientific evidence that shows soy not only helps reduce the risk of heart disease, but can help prevent other significant health problems as well. The USB Soy & Health Research Program will provide 10 research incentives worth $10,000 each to researchers who submit promising soy research applications to the National Institutes of Health and other research organizations. The program specifically targets additional promising soy-related research in the area of osteoporosis and prostate cancer prevention.

"We believe that this program may lead to additional health claims for soy," says Latham. "It is another way we can leverage soybean checkoff investments and increase utilization of our soybeans here at home and around the world." The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed over 40 research studies and more than 100 comments submitted by scientists, health organizations, companies, and the general public before it approved the recent soy health claim. Fewer than 10 opposed the FDA action.

"The overwhelming amount of credible, peer-reviewed, published, scientific research demonstrates that soy has many health benefits," says Clare Hasler, PhD, executive director of the Functional Foods for Health Program at the University of Illinois. "Soy is becoming more readily available in foods, and most importantly, in foods that taste good."

A study conducted by the soybean checkoff before FDA approved the most recent soy health claim shows the food industry used about 37 million bushels of U.S. soybeans. The checkoff expects the number of bushels used for soyfoods to increase at a rate of at least 10 percent a year for the next five years, growing to more than 66 million bushels by 2005. The checkoff's overall marketing goal is to increase domestic utilization and exports from 2.2 billion bushels in 1992 to 3 billion bushels by 2005. USB is made up of 62 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers.

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