ASA Urges Support for Nutrition-Focused Global Food
June 16, 2005... Saint Louis, Missouri... American Soybean Association (ASA) past-President Bart Ruth testified today that the U.S. government should support international food assistance programs that are focused on nutrition, offer more flexibility and augment medical treatment of people suffering from chronic infectious disease. Ruth, a soybean grower from Rising City, Neb., presented this message to the Subcommittee on Specialty Crops and Foreign Agriculture Service of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.
Ruth noted that U.S. food aid programs have begun to shift from large-scale surplus disposal programs to nutrition-oriented ones that are more appropriate and beneficial to the recipients.
"We applaud this movement, and have been on the forefront of developing highly nutritious protein rich products," Ruth said. "Sustainable solutions to world hunger are extremely important, and we recognize that local access to products is an important part of sustainability."
In the last three years, U.S. food assistance programs have increasingly used high-protein soy products since the products are an easy way to boost the nutritional benefits of foods that are already popular in diverse countries around the world.
"In countries where access to traditional sources of protein is often not possible, soy serves as an ideal vegetable protein to supplement otherwise protein-poor diets," Ruth said. "There is also no question that protein plays a key role, alongside calories, in prolonging life of those suffering from chronic infectious diseases.
"It is especially important to provide protein and calorie rich food to those receiving anti-retroviral medications for HIV/AIDS, for the medicines to be effective," Ruth said. "If we abandon non-emergency food assistance now, we may never be able to alleviate the HIV/AIDS crisis in many countries."
Because global food assistance requires new strategies, U.S. soybean growers launched the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program in 2000. The initiative balances long-term market development with current humanitarian needs. WISHH offers product samples and technical assistance to the humanitarian community, as well as food industries, in developing countries that can use soy in businesses that create long-term economic opportunities.
Historically, the total value of soybean products used in all U.S. food assistance programs amounted to approximately $400 million. Of this total, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) international programs, such as the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, are increasingly focusing on nutrition, and as a result, are using more high-protein soy products, such as textured soy protein. The USDA is slated to use 4,870 metric tons of value-added soy protein products in Fiscal Year 2005.
Ruth also cited the importance of supporting U.S. approaches to food assistance in World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. Several countries, that have moved to cash assistance-only programs, insist at the WTO that the United States do the same. Cash-only grants are much more likely to be used inappropriately while food assistance is an important way to assist the hungry who are in the greatest need for help. Nearly 850 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished today.
For more information contact:
Bart Ruth, ASA past-President, 402-542-2181,