Just as a tiny seed grows into a tall soybean plant, the United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff have planted “seed money” that has generated large-scale funding from the National Institutes of Health for a study in soy and human health. The addition marks $12.1 million in NIH funds the checkoff has leveraged from only $530,000 in original investments.

The checkoff-funded Soy Health Research Program provided a $10,000 award to Dr. Maarten Bosland of the University of Illinois at Chicago as an incentive for him to submit a soy-related research project to the NIH, the primary federal agency charged with conducting and supporting medical research. The NIH then approved Bosland's study for $1.5 million in federal funding.

“The beauty of the Soy Health Research Program is that it accomplishes one of the goals of the checkoff — funding research as a way to increase soy consumption — by leveraging federal funds so that farmers' checkoff investments are maximized,” says Chuck Myers, USB's Domestic Marketing Committee chair and soybean farmer from Lyons, Neb.

Bosland's study will provide information on soy's ability to prevent both potential and recurrent prostate cancers. Since its inception in 2000, the Soy Health Research Program has provided incentive funding for nine studies that were then fully funded by NIH.

“We're proud to recognize that this program provides a return of about 23 times on investment to the U.S. soybean farmer,” Myers said. “Leveraging money like this is one of the best ways we have found to maximize checkoff investments.”

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men, according to the National Cancer Institute. (Skin cancer is the most common cancer.)

USB is made up of 64 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers.

Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply.