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3-Food: Soy allergies increases by 50% in 1998 - due to GM soy?

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Why soya is a hidden destroyer
Daily Express 12 March 99

Exclusive by Mark Townsend

Fresh fears over the safety of genetically modified foods surfaced faced 
yesterday after new research revealed that food allergies relating to 
soya increased by 50 per cent last year. A study by Europe's leading 
specialists on food sensitivity found health complaints caused by soya - 
the ingredient most associated with GM foods - have increased from 10 in 
100 patients to 15 in 100 over the past year. Researchers at the York 
Nutritional Laboratory said their findings provide real evidence that GM 
food could have a tangible, harmful impact on the human body.
The findings were sent to Health Secretary Frank Dobson last night as 
scientists urged the Government to act on the information and impose an 
instant ban on GM food, while further safety tests are carried out. Dr 
Michael Antoniou, senior lecturer in molecular pathology at Guy's 
Hospital, Central London, said: "This is a very interesting if slightly 
worrying development. It points to the fact that far more work is needed 
to assess their safety. At the moment no allergy tests are carried out 
before GM foods are marketed and that also needs to be looked at."
John Graham, spokesman for the York laboratory, said: "We believe this 
raises serious new questions about the safety of GM foods because it is 
impossible to guarantee that the soya used in the tests was GM-free." It 
is the first time in 17 years of testing that soya has crept into the 
laboratory's top 10 foods to cause an allergic reaction in consumers. The 
vegetable has moved up four places to ninth end now sits alongside 
foodstuffs with a long history of causing allergies, such as yeast, 
sunflower seeds and nuts.
Mr. Graham said researchers tested 4,500 people for allergic reactions to 
vegetables including soya. Among the range of chronic illnesses it caused 
were irritable bowel syndrome, digestion problems and skin complaints 
including acne and eczema. "People also suffered neurological problems 
with chronic fatigue syndrome, headaches and lethargy. It is worrying," 
Mr Graham added. Researchers measured the levels of antibodies in a 
person's blood. If increased levels were detected it showed the person 
suffered an adverse reaction to a particular food.
Soya, the wonder crop of the 20th century is found in 60 per cent of all 
processed foods sold in the UK - from bread to baby food, ready-to-eat 
curries to vegetarian lasagne. But because GM and natural soya are mixed 
at source in America - the world's biggest supplier - it has become 
increasingly difficult for retailers to guarantee the purity of any 
Last month campaigners from Greenpeace dumped four tons of GM soya beans 
from America at the gates of Downing Street in protest. The Consumers' 
Association yesterday renewed its demand for the Government to 
investigate the safety of GM foods. A spokesman said: "We just don't know 
what health problems could arise in the future. " Waitrose yesterday 
announced that it would be stocking its own-label GM-free foods by the 
end of the month. Managing director David Felwick said: "We believe 
customers should be able to make an informed choice about the products 
they are buying."

-| Hartmut Meyer
-| Co-ordinator
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
-| Reinhaeuser Landstr. 51
-| D - 37083 Goettingen
-| Germany
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