Through GENET news we received the article from the Daile Express of 12 March about soya allergy, suggesting that genetic engineering may have caused an increase in the (already) allergenic potential of soya. We have learnt to be very cautious about what is being written in newspapers. Therefore, I phoned the York Nutritional Laboratory this morning about the article.
John Graham, the spokesman of York Nutritional Laboratory, told me they had released the findings in order to promote their pin-prick testing kits. He also told me it had been put in the context of genetic engineering by the journalist.He sent me their own press release, which starts to mention the growing concern about the safety of foods. In this context, they point to the present debates about genetically modified foods and the call for more informative food labelling.
They aim their test specifically at vegetarians.
The press release states that the research of York Nutritional Laboratory has confirmed that soya, which many vegetarians eat both as a dairy and meat substitute, has crept into the top ten foods associated with cronic illnesses alongside some beans, grains and fruits.
The press release itself does not suggest a relationship with genetic engineering.
Nevertheless, genetic engineering could be one of the causes. Other possible causes are: the general lack of data about food allergies to enable well defined comparissons, a general increase in soya consumption, or even other factors which have nothing to do with soya. The findings of York Nutritional Laboratory are insufficient proof to state that genetic engineering has increased the allergenicity potential of soya.
Later on, the press release states: "Many of our patients have endured chronic illnesses such as migraine, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and conditions such as lethargy, fatigue or depression for many years. The majority have aveliated their symptoms only after cutting out vegetables such as beans or even lettuce, which they have found to be sensitive to".
This passage is about food allergies in general, and not specifically about soya only! Moreover, the symptoms described are quite well known in cases of food allergies: it's nothing new.
Huib de Vriend
stichting Consument en Biotechnologie
2500 BA Den Haag
phone: +31 70 44 54 498
fax: +31 70 44 54 592