SnowBall archive


GE - Soya and food allergy

Dear all, 

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
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
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 
Postbus 1000 
2500 BA Den Haag 
The Netherlands 
phone: +31 70 44 54 498 
fax: +31 70 44 54 592