THE SOYA BEAN CONSPIRACY
by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
Fallon is the author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook
that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats,
with Mary G. Enig, PhD (NewTrends Publishing 877-707-1776). She
is the founding president of the Weston
A. Price Foundation and founder of A
Campaign for Real Milk.
Mary Enig, PhD is the author of Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer
for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol
(Bethesda Press 301-680-8600). She is President of the Maryland
Nutritionists Association and Vice President of the Weston A Price
* Soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc
* Soy foods increase the body's requirement for vitamin D
* Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic
* Soy has the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women
* The Japanese traditionally eat a small amount of tofu or miso as part of a mineral-rich fish broth, followed by a serving of meat or fish
* Vegetarians who consume tofu and bean curd as a substitute for meat and dairy products risk severe mineral deficiencies
* Soya is used in school lunch programs, diet beverages and fast food products
* Research that ties soy to positive effects on cholesterol levels is "incredibly immature,"
* Celibate monks living in monasteries and leading a vegetarian lifestyle find soy foods quite helpful because they dampen libido
* Scientists have known for years that soy-based formula can cause thyroid problems in babies
* The most significant dietary association with premature sexual development was not chicken -- as reported in the press - but soy infant formula
* The claim that soy prevents osteoporosis is extraordinary, given that soy foods block calcium and cause vitamin D deficiencies
* Dr Lon White reported on a study of Japanese Americans living in Hawaii, that showed a significant statistical relationship between two or more servings of tofu a week and "accelerated brain aging"
* Breast cancer: researchers found that women consuming soy protein isolate had an increased incidence of epithelial hyperplasia, a condition that presages malignancies
* FDA complicity: in early in 1998, the FDA received the final British Government report on phytoestrogens, which failed to find much evidence of benefit and warned against potential adverse effects
year, research on the health effects of soy and soybean components
seems to increase exponentially. Furthermore, research is not
just expanding in the primary areas under investigation, such
as cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis; new findings suggest
that soy has potential benefits that may be more extensive than
Mark Messina, PhD, General Chairperson of the Third International
Soy Symposium, held in Washington, DC, in November 1999. The symposium
marked the apogee of a decade-long marketing campaign to gain
consumer acceptance of tofu, soy milk, soy ice cream, soy cheese,
soy sausage and soy derivatives, particularly soy isoflavones
like genistein and diadzen, the oestrogen-like compounds found
in soybeans. It coincided with a US Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) decision, announced on October 25, 1999, to allow a health
claim for products "low in saturated fat and cholesterol"
that contain 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving. Breakfast
cereals, baked goods, convenience food, smoothie mixes and meat
substitutes could now be sold with labels touting benefits to
cardiovascular health, as long as these products contained one
heaping teaspoon of soy protein per 100-gram serving.
ABOUT SOY? MARKETING THE PERFECT FOOD
imagine you could grow the perfect food. This food not only would
provide affordable nutrition, but also would be delicious and
easy to prepare in a variety of ways. It would be a healthful
food, with no saturated fat. In fact, you would be growing a virtual
fountain of youth on your back forty." The author is Dean
Houghton, writing for The Furrow, a magazine published in 12 languages
by John Deere. "This ideal food would help prevent, and perhaps
reverse, some of the world's most dreaded diseases. You could
grow this miracle crop in a variety of soils and climates. Its
cultivation would build up, not deplete, the land. . . this miracle
food already exists. . . It's called soy."
High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce
assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic
acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods
such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate
diets have caused growth problems in children.
What was once a minor crop, listed in the 1913 US Department of
Agriculture (USDA) handbook not as a food but as an industrial
product, now covers 72 million acres of American farmland. Much
of this harvest will be used to feed chickens, turkeys, pigs,
cows and salmon. Another large fraction will be squeezed to produce
oil for margarine, shortenings and salad dressings.
in technology make it possible to produce isolated soy protein
from what was once considered a waste product -- the defatted,
high-protein soy chips - and then transform something that looks
and smells terrible into products that can be consumed by human
beings. Flavourings, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers and
synthetic nutrients have turned soy protein isolate, the food
processors' ugly duckling, into a New Age Cinderella.
Soy foods increase the body's requirement for vitamin D.
new fairy-tale food has been marketed not so much for her beauty
but for her virtues. Early on, products based on soy protein isolate
were sold as extenders and meat substitutes - a strategy that
failed to produce the requisite consumer demand. The industry
changed its approach. "The quickest way to gain product acceptability
in the less affluent society," said an industry spokesman,
"is to have the product consumed on its own merit in a more
affluent society." So soy is now sold to the upscale consumer,
not as a cheap, poverty food but as a miracle substance that will
prevent heart disease and cancer, whisk away hot flushes, build
strong bones and keep us forever young. The competition - meat,
milk, cheese, butter and eggs -- has been duly demonized by the
appropriate government bodies. Soy serves as meat and milk for
a new generation of virtuous vegetarians.
costs money, especially when it needs to be bolstered with ‘research,
but there's plenty of funds available. All soybean producers pay
a mandatory assessment of one-half to one per cent of the net
market price of soybeans. Archer Daniels Midland spent $4.7 million
for advertising on Meet the Press and $4.3 million on
Face the Nation during the course of a year. IMF money
funds soy processing plants in foreign countries, and free trade
policies keep soybean abundance flowing to overseas destinations.
Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to
the nervous system and the kidneys.
The push for more soy has been relentless and global in its reach.
Soy protein is now found in most supermarket breads. It is being
used to transform "the humble tortilla, Mexico's corn-based
staple food, into a protein-fortified 'super-tortilla' that would
give a nutritional boost to the nearly 20 million Mexicans who
live in extreme poverty." Advertising for a new soy-enriched
loaf from Allied Bakeries in Britain targets menopausal women
seeking relief from hot flushes. Sales are running at a quarter
of a million loaves per week.
soy industry hired Norman Robert Associates, a public relations
firm, to "get more soy products onto school menus."
The USDA responded with a proposal to scrap the 30 per cent limit
for soy in school lunches. The NuMenu program would allow unlimited
use of soy in student meals. With soy added to hamburgers, tacos
and lasagna, dieticians can get the total fat content below 30
per cent of calories, thereby conforming to government dictates.
"With the soy-enhanced food items, students are receiving
better servings of nutrients and less cholesterol and fat."
inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause
pancreatic disorders. In test animals soy containing trypsin
inhibitors caused stunted growth.
Soy milk has posted the biggest gains, soaring from $2 million
in 1980 to $300 million in the US last year. Recent advances in
processing have transformed the grey, thin, bitter, beany-tasting
Asian beverage into a product that Western consumers will accept
-- one that tastes like a milkshake, but without the guilt.
Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential
to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
miracles, good packaging, massive advertising and a marketing
strategy that stresses the products' possible health benefits
account for increasing sales to all age groups. Reports that soy
helps prevent prostate cancer have made soy milk acceptable to
middle-aged men. "You don't have to twist the arm of a 55-
to 60-year-old guy to get him to try soy milk," says Mark
Messina. Michael Milken, former junk bond financier, has helped
the industry shed its hippie image with well-publicized efforts
to consume 40 grams of soy protein daily.
Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic
lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
today, tomorrow the world. Soy milk sales are rising in Canada,
even though soy milk there costs twice as much as cow's milk.
Soybean milk processing plants are sprouting up in places like
Kenya. Even China, where soy really is a poverty food and whose
people want more meat, not tofu, has opted to build Western-style
soy factories rather than develop western grasslands for grazing
CINDERELLA'S DARK SIDE
The propaganda that has created the soy sales miracle is all the
more remarkable because, only a few decades ago, the soybean was
considered unfit to eat -- even in Asia. During the Chou Dynasty
(1134 -246 BC) the soybean was designated one of the five sacred
grains, along with barley, wheat, millet and rice. However, the
pictograph for the soybean, which dates from earlier times, indicates
that it was not first used as a food.
soybean did not serve as a food until the discovery of fermentation
techniques, some time during the Chou Dynasty. The first soy foods
were fermented products like tempeh, natto, miso and soy sauce.
At a later date, possibly in the 2nd century BC, Chinese scientists
discovered that a purée of cooked soybeans could be precipitated
with calcium sulphate or magnesium sulphate (plaster of Paris
or Epsom salts) to make a smooth, pale curd -- tofu or bean curd.
The use of fermented and precipitated soy products soon spread
to other parts of the Orient, notably Japan and Indonesia.
Chinese did not eat unfermented soybeans as they did other legumes
such as lentils because the soybean contains large quantities
of natural toxins or ‘antinutrients.' First among them are
potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and
other enzymes needed for protein digestion. These inhibitors are
large, tightly folded proteins that are not completely deactivated
during ordinary cooking. They can produce serious gastric distress,
reduced protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid
uptake. In test animals, diets high in trypsin inhibitors cause
enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, including
also contain haemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance that causes
red blood cells to clump together.
inhibitors and haemagglutinin are growth inhibitors. Weanling
rats fed soy containing these antinutrients fail to grow normally.
Growth-depressant compounds are deactivated during the process
of fermentation, so once the Chinese discovered how to ferment
the soybean, they began to incorporate soy foods into their diets.
In precipitated products, enzyme inhibitors concentrate in the
soaking liquid rather than in the curd. Thus, in tofu and bean
curd, growth depressants are reduced in quantity but not completely
also contains goitrogens - substances that depress thyroid function.
are high in phytic acid, present in the bran or hulls of all seeds.
It's a substance that can block the uptake of essential minerals
- calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc - in the
intestinal tract. Although not a household word, phytic acid has
been extensively studied; there are literally hundreds of articles
on the effects of phytic acid in the current scientific literature.
Scientists are in general agreement that grain and legume-based
diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies
in third world countries. Analysis shows that calcium, magnesium,
iron and zinc are present in the plant foods eaten in these areas,
but the high phytate content of soy and grain-based diets prevents
soybean has one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or
legume that has been studied, and the phytates in soy are highly
resistant to normal phytate-reducing techniques such as long,
slow cooking. Only a long period of fermentation will significantly
reduce the phytate content of soybeans. When precipitated soy
products like tofu are consumed with meat, the mineral-blocking
effects of the phytates are reduced. The Japanese traditionally
eat a small amount of tofu or miso as part of a mineral-rich fish
broth, followed by a serving of meat or fish.
who consume tofu and bean curd as a substitute for meat and dairy
products risk severe mineral deficiencies. The results of calcium,
magnesium and iron deficiency are well known; those of zinc are
is called the intelligence mineral because it is needed for optimal
development and functioning of the brain and nervous system. It
plays a role in protein synthesis and collagen formation; it is
involved in the blood-sugar control mechanism and thus protects
against diabetes; it is needed for a healthy reproductive system.
Zinc is a key component in numerous vital enzymes and plays a
role in the immune system. Phytates found in soy products interfere
with zinc absorption more completely than with other minerals.
Zinc deficiency can cause a ‘spacey’ feeling that
some vegetarians may mistake for the ‘high’ of spiritual
drinking is given as the reason why second-generation Japanese
in America grow taller than their native ancestors. Some investigators
postulate that the reduced phytate content of the American diet
-- whatever may be its other deficiencies -- is the true explanation,
pointing out that both Asian and Western children who do not get
enough meat and fish products to counteract the effects of a high
phytate diet, frequently suffer rickets, stunting and other growth
SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE: NOT SO FRIENDLY
Soy processors have worked hard to get these antinutrients out
of the finished product, particularly soy protein isolate (SPI)
which is the key ingredient in most soy foods that imitate meat
and dairy products, including baby formulas and some brands of
is not something you can make in your own kitchen. Production
takes place in industrial factories where a slurry of soy beans
is first mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fibre, then
precipitated and separated using an acid wash and, finally, neutralized
in an alkaline solution. Acid washing in aluminium tanks leaches
high levels of aluminium into the final product. The resultant
curds are spray-dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein
powder. A final indignity to the original soybean is high-temperature,
high-pressure extrusion processing of soy protein isolate to produce
textured vegetable protein (TVP).
which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray-drying,
and a toxin called lysinoalanine is formed during alkaline processing.
Numerous artificial flavourings, particularly MSG, are added to
soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein products to
mask their strong ‘beany’ taste and to impart the
flavour of meat.
feeding experiments, the use of SPI increased requirements for
vitamins E, K, D and B12 and created deficiency symptoms of calcium,
magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic
acid remaining in these soy products greatly inhibits zinc and
iron absorption; test animals fed SPI develop enlarged organs,
particularly the pancreas and thyroid gland, and increased deposition
of fatty acids in the liver.
soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein are used extensively
in school lunch programs, commercial baked goods, diet beverages
and fast food products. They are heavily promoted in third world
countries and form the basis of many food giveaway programs.
FDA HEALTH CLAIM CHALLENGED
The best marketing strategy for a product that is inherently unhealthy
is, of course, a health claim.
road to FDA approval," writes a soy apologist, "was
long and demanding, consisting of a detailed review of human clinical
data collected from more than 40 scientific studies conducted
over the last 20 years. Soy protein was found to be one of the
rare foods that had sufficient scientific evidence not only to
qualify for an FDA health claim proposal but to ultimately pass
the rigorous approval process."
"long and demanding" road to FDA approval actually took
a few unexpected turns. The original petition, submitted by Protein
Technology International, requested a health claim for isoflavones,
the oestrogen-like compounds found plentifully in soybeans, based
on assertions that "only soy protein that has been processed
in a manner in which isoflavones are retained will result in cholesterol
lowering". In 1998, the FDA made the unprecedented move of
rewriting PTI's petition, removing any reference to the phyto-oestrogens
and substituting a claim for soy protein -- a move that was in
direct contradiction to the agency's regulations. The FDA is authorized
to make rulings only on substances presented by petition.
The abrupt change in direction was no doubt due to the fact that
a number of researchers, including scientists employed by the
US Government, submitted documents indicating that isoflavones
FDA had also received, early in 1998, the final British Government
report on phytoestrogens, which failed to find much evidence of
benefit and warned against potential adverse effects.
Even with the change to soy protein isolate, FDA bureaucrats engaged
in the "rigorous approval process" were forced to deal
nimbly with concerns about mineral blocking effects, enzyme inhibitors,
goitrogenicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive problems and
increased allergic reactions from consumption of soy products.
of the strongest letters of protest came from Dr Dan Sheehan and
Dr Daniel Doerge, government researchers at the National Center
for Toxicological Research. Their pleas for warning labels were
dismissed as unwarranted.
scientific evidence" of soy's cholesterol-lowering properties
is drawn largely from a 1995 meta-analysis by Dr James Anderson,
sponsored by Protein Technologies International and published
in the New England Journal of Medicine.
meta-analysis is a review and summary of the results of many clinical
studies on the same subject. Use of meta-analyses to draw general
conclusions has come under sharp criticism by members of the scientific
community. "Researchers substituting meta-analysis for more
rigorous trials risk making faulty assumptions and indulging in
creative accounting," says Sir John Scott, President of the
Royal Society of New Zealand.
is the added temptation for researchers, particularly researchers
funded by a company like Protein Technologies International, to
leave out studies that would prevent the desired conclusions.
Dr Anderson discarded eight studies for various reasons, leaving
a remainder of twenty-nine. The published report suggested that
individuals with cholesterol levels over 250 mg/dl would experience
a ‘significant’ reduction of 7 to 20 per cent in levels
of serum cholesterol if they substituted soy protein for animal
protein. Cholesterol reduction was insignificant for individuals
whose cholesterol was lower than 250 mg/dl.
other words, for most of us, giving up steak and eating vegieburgers
instead will not bring down blood cholesterol levels. The health
claim that the FDA approved "after detailed review of human
clinical data" fails to inform the consumer about these important
that ties soy to positive effects on cholesterol levels is "incredibly
immature," said Ronald M. Krauss, MD, head of the Molecular
Medical Research Program and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
He might have added that studies in which cholesterol levels were
lowered through either diet or drugs have consistently resulted
in a greater number of deaths in the treatment groups than in
controls -- deaths from stroke, cancer, intestinal disorders,
accident and suicide. Cholesterol-lowering measures in the US
have fuelled a $60 billion per year cholesterol-lowering industry,
but have not saved us from the ravages of heart disease.
SOY AND CANCER
The new FDA ruling does not allow any claims about cancer prevention
on food packages, but that has not restrained the industry and
its marketeers from making them in their promotional literature.
addition to protecting the heart," says a vitamin company
brochure, "soy has demonstrated powerful anticancer benefits
. . . the Japanese, who eat 30 times as much soy as North Americans,
have a lower incidence of cancers of the breast, uterus and prostate."
they do. But the Japanese, and Asians in general, have much higher
rates of other types of cancer, particularly cancer of the oesophagus,
stomach, pancreas and liver. Asians throughout the world also
have high rates of thyroid cancer. The logic that links low rates
of reproductive cancers to soy consumption requires attribution
of high rates of thyroid and digestive cancers to the same foods,
particularly as soy causes these types of cancers in laboratory
Just how much soy do Asians eat? A 1998 survey found that the
average daily amount of soy protein consumed in Japan was about
eight grams for men and seven for women -- less than two teaspoons.
The famous Cornell China Study, conducted by Colin T. Campbell,
found that legume consumption in China varied from 0 to 58 grams
per day, with a mean of about twelve. Assuming that two-thirds
of legume consumption is soy, then the maximum consumption is
about 40 grams, or less than three tablespoons per day, with an
average consumption of about nine grams, or less than two teaspoons.
A survey conducted in the 1930s found that soy foods accounted
for only 1.5 per cent of calories in the Chinese diet, compared
with 65 per cent of calories from pork. (Asians traditionally
cooked with lard, not vegetable oil!)
THAT -- AND YOUR SEX LIFE
fermented soy products make a delicious, natural seasoning that
may supply important nutritional factors in the Asian diet. But
except in times of famine, Asians consume soy products only in
small amounts, as condiments, and not as a replacement for animal
foods -- with one exception. Celibate monks living in monasteries
and leading a vegetarian lifestyle find soy foods quite helpful
because they dampen libido.
was a 1994 meta-analysis by Mark Messina, published in Nutrition
and Cancer, that fuelled speculation on soy's anticarcinogenic
properties. Messina noted that in 26 animal studies, 65 per cent
reported protective effects from soy. He conveniently neglected
to include at least one study in which soy feeding caused pancreatic
cancer -- the 1985 study by Rackis. In the human studies he listed,
the results were mixed. A few showed some protective effect, but
most showed no correlation at all between soy consumption and
cancer rates. He concluded that "the data in this review
cannot be used as a basis for claiming that soy intake decreases
cancer risk." Yet in his subsequent book, The Simple
Soybean and Your Health, Messina makes just such a claim,
recommending one cup or 230 grams of soy products per day in his
‘optima’ diet as a way to prevent cancer.
Thousands of women are now consuming soy in the belief that it
protects them against breast cancer. Yet, in 1996, researchers
found that women consuming soy protein isolate had an increased
incidence of epithelial hyperplasia, a condition that presages
malignancies. A year later, dietary genistein was found to stimulate
breast cells to enter the cell cycle -- a discovery that led the
study authors to conclude that women should not consume soy products
to prevent breast cancer.
PHYTOESTROGENS: PANACEA OR POISON?
In 1991, Japanese researchers reported that consumption of as
little as 30 grams or two tablespoons of soybeans per day for
only one month resulted in a significant increase in thyroid-stimulating
hormone goitre and hypothyroidism appeared in some of the subjects
and many complained of constipation, fatigue and lethargy, even
though their intake of iodine was adequate. In 1997, researchers
from the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research made
the embarrassing discovery that the goitrogenic components of
soy were the very same isoflavones.
Twenty-five grams of soy protein isolate, the minimum amount PTI
claimed to have cholesterol-lowering effects, contains from 50
to 70 mg of isoflavones. It took only 45 mg of isoflavones in
premenopausal women to exert significant biological effects, including
a reduction in hormones needed for adequate thyroid function.
These effects lingered for three months after soy consumption
One hundred grams of soy protein -- the maximum suggested cholesterol-lowering
dose, and the amount recommended by Protein Technologies International
-- can contain almost 600 mg of isoflavones, an amount that is
undeniably toxic. In 1992, the Swiss health service estimated
that 100 grams of soy protein provided the oestrogenic equivalent
of the Pill.
Reproductive problems, infertility, thyroid disease and liver
disease due to dietary intake of isoflavones have been observed
for several species of animals including mice, cheetah, quail,
pigs, rats, sturgeon and sheep.
It is the isoflavones in soy that are said to have a favourable
effect on postmenopausal symptoms, including hot flushes, and
protection from osteoporosis. Quantification of discomfort from
hot flushes is extremely subjective, and most studies show that
control subjects report reduction in discomfort in amounts equal
to subjects given soy. The claim that soy prevents osteoporosis
is extraordinary, given that soy foods block calcium and cause
vitamin D deficiencies. If Asians indeed have lower rates of osteoporosis
than Westerners, it is because their diet provides plenty of vitamin
D from shrimp, lard and seafood, and plenty of calcium from bone
broths. The reason that Westerners have such high rates of osteoporosis
is because they have substituted soy oil for butter, which is
a traditional source of vitamin D and other fat-soluble activators
needed for calcium absorption.
BIRTH CONTROL PILLS FOR BABIES
But it was the isoflavones in infant formula that gave the Jameses
the most cause for concern. In 1998, investigators reported that
the daily exposure of infants to isoflavones in soy infant formula
is 6 to11 times higher on a body-weight basis than the dose that
has hormonal effects in adults consuming soy foods. Circulating
concentrations of isoflavones in infants fed soy-based formula
were 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than plasma oestradiol concentrations
in infants on cow's milk formula.
25 per cent of bottle-fed children in the US receive soy-based
formula -- a much higher percentage than in other parts of the
Western world. Fitzpatrick estimated that an infant exclusively
fed soy formula receives the oestrogenic equivalent (based on
body weight) of at least five birth control pills per day. By
contrast, almost no phytoestrogens have been detected in dairy-based
infant formula or in human milk, even when the mother consumes
have known for years that soy-based formula can cause thyroid
problems in babies. But what are the effects of soy products on
the hormonal development of the infant, both male and female?
infants undergo a "testosterone surge" during the first
few months of life, when testosterone levels may be as high as
those of an adult male. During this period, the infant is programmed
to express male characteristics after puberty, not only in the
development of his sexual organs and other masculine physical
traits, but also in setting patterns in the brain characteristic
of male behaviour. It goes without saying that future patterns
of sexual orientation may also be influenced by the early hormonal
environment. Male children exposed during gestation to diethylstilbestrol
(DES), a synthetic oestrogen that has effects on animals similar
to those of phytoestrogens from soy, had testes smaller than normal
disabilities, especially in male children, have reached epidemic
proportions. Soy infant feeding -- which began in earnest in the
early 1970s -- cannot be ignored as a probable cause for these
for girls, an alarming number are entering puberty much earlier
than normal, according to a recent study reported in the journal
Pediatrics. Investigators found that one per cent of
all girls now show signs of puberty, such as breast development
or pubic hair, before the age of three; by age eight, 14.7 per
cent of white girls and almost 50 per cent of African-American
girls have one or both of these characteristics.
data indicate that environmental oestrogens such as PCBs and DDE
(a breakdown product of DDT) may cause early sexual development
in girls. In the 1986 Puerto Rico Premature Thelarche study, the
most significant dietary association with premature sexual development
was not chicken -- as reported in the press - but soy infant formula.
DISSENSION IN THE RANKS
Organisers of the Third International Soy Symposium would be hard-pressed
to call the conference an unqualified success. On the second day
of the symposium, the London-based Food Commission and the Weston
A. Price Foundation of Washington, DC, held a joint press conference,
in the same hotel as the symposium, to present concerns about
soy infant formula. Industry representatives sat stony-faced through
the recitation of potential dangers and a plea from concerned
scientists and parents to pull soy-based infant formula from the
market. Under pressure from the Jameses, the New Zealand Government
had issued a health warning about soy infant formula in 1998;
it was time for the American government to do the same.
the last day of the symposium, presentations on new findings related
to toxicity sent a well-oxygenated chill through the giddy helium
hype. Dr Lon White reported on a study of Japanese Americans living
in Hawaii, that showed a significant statistical relationship
between two or more servings of tofu a week and "accelerated
brain aging." Those participants who consumed tofu in mid-life
had lower cognitive function in late life and a greater incidence
of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. "What's more,"
said Dr White, "those who ate a lot of tofu, by the time
they were 75 or 80 looked five years older." White and his
colleagues blamed the negative effects on isoflavones -- a finding
that supports an earlier study in which postmenopausal women with
higher levels of circulating oestrogen experienced greater cognitive
study of babies born to vegetarian mothers, published in January
2000, indicated just what those changes in baby's development
might be. Mothers who ate a vegetarian diet during pregnancy had
a fivefold greater risk of delivering a boy with hypospadias,
a birth defect of the penis. The authors of the study suggested
that the cause was greater exposure to phytoestrogens in soy foods
popular with vegetarians. Problems with female offspring of vegetarian
mothers are more likely to show up later in life. While soy's
oestrogenic effect is less than that of diethylstilbestrol (DES),
the dose is likely to be higher because it's consumed as a food,
not taken as a drug. Daughters of women who took DES during pregnancy
suffered from infertility and cancer when they reached their twenties.
QUESTION MARKS OVER GRAS STATUS
Lurking in the background of industry hype for soy is the nagging
question of whether it's even legal to add soy protein isolate
to food. All food additives not in common use prior to 1958, including
casein protein from milk, must have GRAS (Generally Recognized
As Safe) status. In 1972, the Nixon administration directed a
re-examination of substances believed to be GRAS, in the light
of any scientific information then available. This re-examination
included casein protein which became codified as GRAS in 1978.
In 1974, the FDA obtained a literature review of soy protein because,
as soy protein had not been used in food until 1959 and was not
even in common use in the early 1970s, it was not eligible to
have its GRAS status grand fathered under the provisions of the
Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
The scientific literature up to 1974 recognised many antinutrients
in factory-made soy protein, including trypsin inhibitors, phytic
acid and genistein. But the FDA literature review dismissed discussion
of adverse impacts, with the statement that it was important for
"adequate processing" to remove them. Genistein could
be removed with an alcohol wash, but it was an expensive procedure
that processors avoided. Later studies determined that trypsin
inhibitor content could be removed only with long periods of heat
and pressure, but the FDA has imposed no requirements for manufacturers
to do so.
FDA was more concerned with toxins formed during processing, specifically
nitrites and lysinoalanine. Even at low levels of consumption
-- averaging one-third of a gram per day at the time -- the presence
of these carcinogens was considered too great a threat to public
health to allow GRAS status.
protein did have approval for use as a binder in cardboard boxes,
and this approval was allowed to continue, as researchers considered
that migration of nitrites from the box into the food contents
would be too small to constitute a cancer risk. FDA officials
called for safety specifications and monitoring procedures before
granting of GRAS status for food. These were never performed.
To this day, use of soy protein is codified as GRAS only for this
limited industrial use as a cardboard binder. This means that
soy protein must be subject to premarket approval procedures each
time manufacturers intend to use it as a food or add it to a food.
Soy protein was introduced into infant formula in the early 1960s.
It was a new product with no history of any use at all. As soy
protein did not have GRAS status, premarket approval was required.
This was not and still has not been granted. The key ingredient
of soy infant formula is not recognised as safe.
THE NEXT ASBESTOS?
the backdrop of widespread praise. . . there is growing suspicion
that soy -- despite its undisputed benefits -- may pose some health
hazards," writes Marian Burros, a leading food writer for
the New York Times. More than any other writer, Ms Burros'
endorsement of a low-fat, largely vegetarian diet has herded Americans
into supermarket aisles featuring soy foods. Yet her January 26,
2000 article, Doubts Cloud Rosy News on Soy, contains the following
alarming statement: "Not one of the 18 scientists interviewed
for this column was willing to say that taking isoflavones was
risk free." Ms Burros did not enumerate the risks, nor did
she mention that the recommended 25 daily grams of soy protein
contain enough isoflavones to cause problems in sensitive individuals,
but it was evident that the industry had recognized the need to
the industry is extremely exposed . . . contingency lawyers will
soon discover that the number of potential plaintiffs can be counted
in the millions and the pockets are very, very deep. Juries will
hear something like the following: "The industry has known
for years that soy contains many toxins. At first they told the
public that the toxins were removed by processing. When it became
apparent that processing could not get rid of them, they claimed
that these substances were beneficial. Your government granted
a health claim to a substance that is poisonous, and the industry
lied to the public to sell more soy."
"industry" includes merchants, manufacturers, scientists,
publicists, bureaucrats, former bond financiers, food writers,
vitamin companies and retail stores. Farmers will probably escape
because they were duped like the rest of us. But they need to
find something else to grow before the soy bubble bursts and the
market collapses: grass-fed livestock, designer vegetables. .
. or hemp to make paper for thousands and thousands of legal briefs.
Program for the Third International Symposium on the Role of Soy
in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease, Sunday, October 31,
through Wednesday, November 3, 1999, Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington,
Dean, "Healthful Harvest", The Furrow, January 2000,
Richard J., "Vegetable Protein - A Delayed Birth?" Journal
of the American Oil Chemists' Society 52:238A, April 1975.
James F., "Healthier tortillas could lead to healthier Mexico",
Denver Post, August 22, 1999, p. 26A.
Up Burgers with Soy Products at School", Nutrition Week,
Community Nutrition Institute, Washington, DC, June 5, 1998, p.
John, "A Health Food Hits Big Time", Wall Street Journal,
August 3, 1999, p. B1
Milk Plant in Kenya", Africa News Service, September 1998.
Frederick J., Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry,
CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1991, p. 64.
Solomon H., "Food and Biocultural Evolution: A Model for
the Investigation of Modern Nutritional Problems", Nutritional
Anthropology, Alan R. Liss Inc., 1987, p. 50.
Joseph J. et al., "The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background,
objectives and procedural details", Qualification of Plant
Foods in Human Nutrition, vol. 35, 1985.
Tiney, A.H., "Proximate Composition and Mineral and Phytate
Contents of Legumes Grown in Sudan", Journal of Food Composition
and Analysis (1989) 2:6778.
reduction of zinc absorption has been demonstrated in numerous
studies. These results are summarised in Leviton, Richard, Tofu,
Tempeh, Miso and Other Soyfoods: The 'Food of the Future' - How
to Enjoy Its Spectacular Health Benefits, Keats Publishing, Inc.,
New Canaan, CT, USA, 1982, p. 1415.
G.M., "Studies on the Processing and Properties of Soymilk",
Journal of Science and Food Agriculture 22:526-535, October 1971.
Joseph, J., "Biological and Physiological Factors in Soybeans",
Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 51:161A-170A, January
Benjamin, "Nutritional Quality of Soybean Protein Isolates:
Studies in Children of Preschool Age", in Soy Protein and
Human Nutrition, Harold L Wilcke et al. (eds), Academic Press,
New York, 1979.
Marwin, CCN, "The Great Soy Protein Awakening", Total
Health 32(1), February 2000.
Assessment on Phytoestrogens in the Human Diet, Final Report to
the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, UK, November
1997, p. 11.
Labeling: Health Claims: Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease,
Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR, Part 101 (Docket No. 98P-0683).
Daniel M. and Daniel R Doerge, Letter to Dockets Management Branch
(HFA-305), February 18, 1999.
James W. et al., "Meta-analysis of the Effects of Soy Protein
Intake on Serum Lipids", New England Journal of Medicine
Mary G. and Sally Fallon, "The Oiling of America", NEXUS
Magazine, December 1998-January 1999 and February-March 1999;
also available at www.WestonAPrice.org.
Nagata, C. et al., Journal of Nutrition (1998) 128:209-213.
K.C. (ed.), Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical
Perspectives, New Haven, 1977.
Mark J. et al., "Soy Intake and Cancer Risk: A Review of
the In Vitro and In Vivo Data", Nutrition and Cancer (1994)
N.L. et al., "Stimulatory influence of soy protein isolate
on breast secretion in pre- and post-menopausal women", Cancer
Epid. Bio. Prev. (1996) 5:785-794.
C. et al., "Dietary estrogens stimulate human breast cells
to enter the cell cycle", Environmental Health Perspectives
(1997) 105 (Suppl. 3):633-636.
Y. et al., "The effects on the thyroid gland of soybeans
administered experimentally in healthy subjects", Nippon
Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi (1991) 767:622-629.
R.L. et al., "Anti-thyroid isoflavones from the soybean",
Biochemical Pharmacology (1997) 54:1087-1096.
A. et al., "Biological
Effects of a Diet of Soy Protein Rich in Isoflavones on the Menstrual
Cycle of Premenopausal Women", American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition (1994) 60:333-340.
Jean and Giordana M. Prelevic, "Is there a proven place for
phytoestrogens in the menopause?" Climacteric (1999) 2:75-78.
K.D. et al., "Isoflavone content of infant formulas and the
metabolic fate of these early phytoestrogens in early life",
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 1998 Supplement,
C. et al., "The Potential Adverse Effects of Soybean Phytoestrogens
in Infant Feeding", New Zealand Medical Journal May 24, 1995,
R.K. et al., "Effect of in-utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol
on age at onset of puberty and on post-pubertal hormone levels
in boys", Canadian Medical Association Journal 128(10):1197-8,
May 15, 1983.
Marcia E. et al., "Secondary Sexual Characteristics and Menses
in Young Girls Seen in Office Practice: A Study from the Pediatric
Research in Office Settings Network", Pediatrics 99(4):505-512,
Lon, "Association of High Midlife Tofu Consumption with Accelerated
Brain Aging", Plenary Session #8: Cognitive Function, The
Third International Soy Symposium, November 1999, Program, p.
Helen, "Too much tofu induces 'brain aging', study shows",
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, November 19, 1999.
diet in pregnancy linked to birth defect", BJU International
85:107-113, January 2000.
of the Health Aspects of Soy Protein Isolates as Food Ingredients",
prepared for FDA by Life Sciences Research Office, Federation
of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) (9650 Rockville
Pike, Bethesda, MD 20014, USA), Contract No, FDA 223-75-2004,
and your Toxicity
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and Salmon Lice
Soya Bean Conspiracy
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