We live in a world of soy. Nearly all of us consume the bean in some form, again and again – either directly, as tofu in a veggie burger, or indirectly, as a piece of pork on the grill. Since the main sites of consumption and production are widely spread, soy's trade routes span the globe. Indeed, the soybean and its by-products, soyoil and soymeal, have emerged as the world's leading agricultural commodity from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. The global soy web affects large tracts of our planet's ‘socio-nature’ in often devastating ways. Therefore, soy has become a decisive factor of the anthropocene, the age of human-made nature.
The conference discusses how soy emerged from a regional food crop to a global cash crop in the 150-years era of globalization. An interdisciplinary and international group of scholars addresses the topic from a holistic perspective, including socio-economic (commodity chains, labor relations, business strategies etc.), socio-political (state policies, international relations, civic movements, etc.), and socio-natural dimensions (plant breeding, farm technology, deforestation, etc.). Against the backdrop of developments in the past, soy's ambivalent role in transitions to a more sustainable future will be discussed.