Just as a tiny seed grows into a tall soybean plant, the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff have once again planted “seed money” that has generated large-scale funding from the National Institutes of Health to fund a study in soy and human health. The addition of this latest success 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 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 about 23 times a return 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.) Other research projects funded by the Soy Health Research Program, and then fully funded by NIH, include research on soy’s potential benefits to breast cancer, heart health, cognitive function and bone health.

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. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Customer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.