By Lorna Haynes
In the last 3 decades, soy has been promoted as a healthy and beneficial food. Many mistakenly believe that there is a long tradition of soy consumption in Asia and that it is a key factor in the lower incidence of osteoporosis, heart disease and some cancers in traditional communities.
The Soy Project
According to a report that appeared in Universal on June 6, the Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Efrén Andrade, announced the government's intention to supply "soy milk" as a "milk substitute to attend school feeding programs." This and other soy products will be destined, under the control of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, to schools for snacks and school lunch, in particular "flavored soy milk." Andrade said soy milk contains a number of nutritional advantages such as methionine, an "expensive" amino acid that cow's milk does not have, nor are the hormones and the antibody problem in the milk that the cow generates when vaccinated. He added that, in December, with private capital, the "Produmilk" plant (a name taken from the English word "milk" which means "milk") will enter into production and will serve as a model for two other plants that are planned to be built in Anzoateguí and Portuguesa. .
Unfortunately, the Minister is wrong in stating that the juice extracted from soybeans is an adequate substitute for milk, since its composition is totally different. On the contrary, in recent years there have been serious concerns among scientists and nutritionists about the health effects, particularly of children, of consuming this food that is intended to be sold as "the perfect food." These studies highlight:
- The phyto-estrogen components of soy that affect hormonal development and the immune system.
- Anti-nutrients in soy that inhibit the assimilation of minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
In studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Publication of the National Academy of Science of the USA) it was reported that soy infant formulas can impede the functioning of the immune system of children since the daily consumption of certain immunosuppressive compounds in soy is 200 times more than what is consumed by children fed breast or cow's milk. For this reason, scientists advise caution in the use of soy for human food, especially for children. However, it is precisely the children that the Venezuelan government proposes to feed with soy.
The Center for the Study of Infant Nutrition (CESNI) of Argentina points out that the substitution of milk for so-called soy "milk" in the infant diet will lead to calcium deficiency that inhibits growth and causes bone malformation, and the lack of assimilable iron can cause anemia. Therefore, the juice extracted from the beans should not be called "soy milk."
Added to this, we wonder about the source of the soy that is proposed to be used in the announced projects. Half of the world's soybean production is GM "RR" (Round-up Ready) soybeans, which introduces serious additional risks to health and the environment that include the creation of new pathogens, resistance to antibiotics and allergies in addition to high levels of herbicide residues. The cultivation of transgenic crops is not and should not be allowed in Venezuela, nor is their importation because their harmlessness to health or the environment has not been proven. Non-GM soy is becoming scarcer every day due to genetic contamination. It is worth asking: which soy is intended to be used in this project?
Whose Health Benefits?
Many of the so-called "health benefits" of soy come from the phytoestrogens it contains. Therefore, some of its promoters recommend its consumption for hormone replacement therapy and for the treatment of prostate cancer. But these same properties, which may be desirable in women during menopause or sick adults, become dangerous when children are fed excessively: inhibition of cell growth helps control cancer but is not desirable when it affects development of children or when phyto-estrogens can cause precocious puberty.
What is essential in small amounts (e.g. vitamins) in excess can be harmful or toxic. Furthermore, the digestion and assimilation of one nutrient may depend on the presence of others. Such is the case with methionine (1) mentioned by the Minister. This is obtained from animal products (meat, eggs and fish) in much greater quantity than in soybeans. In cells, homocysteine generates methionine in a reversible reaction. While the conversion of homocysteine to methionine requires the presence of vitamin B12 and folates, the reverse reaction does not require them. So, in the absence of vitamin B12 and folates, methionine is converted to homocysteine, a substance considered a risk factor for arteriosclerosis and heart disease. Therefore, the intake of soy should be accompanied by Vitamin B12 and folates.
Nutrition or Business?
It cannot be claimed that one food (soy) replaces many more (meat, milk, cheese) even if it contains the same or more of one or more nutrients, because one does not live on a single nutrient. Each food has a unique combination of compounds with different nutritional (or anti-nutritional) values and whose assimilation also depends on substances contained in other foods in the diet. Thus it would be absurd to criticize the consumption of fish because it lacks carbohydrates, honey because it lacks essential amino acids, or rice because it does not contain vitamin A: it is like saying that pigs are deficient because they do not fly.
It simply wouldn't be filthy if it flew. Nor does it make sense to promote the consumption of a food by pointing out one or other of its "beneficial" compounds, since obviously good nutrition requires hundreds of compounds, and such benefits - or even harm - depend on the total diet and the amounts consumed. The perverse fashion of praising foods for only one of their properties or of genetically modifying crops to produce nutrients that, although they do not contain them, are available in nature in other foods that should be part of a comprehensive diet, responds to commercial interests of selling non-necessary products and technologies or a simplistic desire, even if it is not commercial, to seek "solutions" to short-term problems and at any cost and not to the true nutritional needs of the population.
And the right of children and the poor to adequate food?
The case of Argentina is a warning of what could happen in Venezuela if the government insists on its soy-based school feeding program. Faced with the problem of poverty and hunger in Argentina, a food aid program for the poor and children has been launched that forces millions of people to consume a diet based on soy, genetically modified (transgenic) for animal feed. As a result, children are left malnourished, with anemia problems, and weak bones and immune systems. In addition, in the longer term, the risks associated with transgenics will manifest themselves in the population. The Land and Food Forum, Argentina (2) highlights "the need to introduce in the labeling of some products made with soy the inscription of explanatory legends: Not recommended for children under 5 years of age (on soybeans and drink containers soy), and the inscription: This product is not a substitute for milk (in the case of soy juice). "
It is essential that the government stop soybean projects and instead, develop a non-GMO agri-food policy that safely supplies the true nutritional needs of the population.
Below is a summary of reports and studies that expand, with bibliographic references, the information provided.
Nutritional Value of Soy: Separating Myth from Reality (3)
The nutritional content of each soy product (bean, juice, oil, etc.) is different.
- Raw soy is the richest known protein source and the only plant source that contains all 9 essential amino acids: other vegetables are deficient in one or the other, for example, cereals are deficient in lysine and legumes (beans and beans) Except for soybeans, they are deficient in methionine. But if you eat cereals and legumes, you get all 9 amino acids. Such is the case of the traditional indigenous diet and black bean with rice or corn arepa in Venezuela. Despite its high protein content, soy proteins are accompanied by anti-nutrients that inhibit the digestion of the same proteins. These inhibitors are deactivated if soy is cooked under pressure for a long time.
- Soy contains iron but little calcium but, in addition, it also contains phytic acid whose presence inhibits the assimilation of these minerals.
- Soy is poor in vitamins: it contains a form analogous to Vitamin B12 that is inactive and according to some researchers can interfere with the metabolism of Vit. B12.
- The oil content in soybeans is high and 16% of these oils are saturated - which are considered a risk factor for heart disease.
In summary, although soy is high in important nutrients, it also has its problems and is not a panacea for solving nutritional problems.
A new, untested food
(Source: Soil and Health, Vol 61, # 4, p35, 2002)
In the last 3 decades, soy has been promoted as a healthy and beneficial food. Many mistakenly believe that there is a long tradition of soy consumption in Asia and that it is a key factor in the lower incidence of osteoporosis, heart disease and some cancers in traditional communities. But, in fact, in Asia they consume soy in fermented form - shoyu, tamari, miso: their consumption of soy protein makes up only 0.5% of the diet. Also, notes New Zealand scientist Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick, traditional soybeans, glycine soybeans, are different from the variety that is massively grown today (glycine max.). Dr. Fitzpatrick states that incorporating soy protein into a large amount of consumer foods (60% of processed foods contain soy in one form or another) means that it is difficult to avoid consuming isoflavin. It is only during the last 30 years that the population has been exposed to massive consumption of isoflavins but they have never been shown to be safe. Its risks come from its anti-nutritional and hormonal properties. Traditional fermentation of soybeans, practiced for centuries in Asia, produces chemical changes that partially deactivate anti-nutrients and increase the availability of nutrients. The tofu production process only deactivates some of the anti-nutrients, which are:
· Anti-trypsin: inhibits the digestion of proteins and the assimilation of Vit. B12: Soy's anti-trypsin activity contributes to Vitamin B12 deficiency and is suspected to contribute to its anti-coagulant effect (6)
Phytic acid (present in all beans but more so in soybeans): inhibits the absorption of minerals iron, calcium, magnesium and especially zinc (7)
· Hemagglutinins: - agglutinate red cells and inhibit growth. (8)
The hormonal effect of phyto-estrogens is the reason for attributing benefits for cancer treatment and hormone replacement therapy in menopause but it also acts as an immunosuppressant and growth inhibitor in children. Dr. Mary Enig, President of the Maryland Nutrition Association, United States warned against feeding children with soy milk due to its effects on their hormonal system: "The amount of phytoestrogen in the daily consumption of infant formula is equivalent to consuming 5 tablets contraceptives. "
As this knowledge is relatively new, the toxicity of the compounds in soy foods has not been investigated. Pseudo-precocious puberty has been reported (9) and, in 1997, the Lancet (10), a prestigious British medical journal, reported that the concentration of estradiol in the plasma of children fed soy-based infant formulas was 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than normal plasma estradiol concentrations and could exert effects on the body; Researchers in New Zealand have called to investigate the phenomenon (11) In contrast, the contribution of breast and cow's milk to estradiol in plasma is almost zero.
While isoflavins cause early sexual development in girls, they are believed to delay or "feminize" development in boys (12). Fitzpatrick and his colleagues noted that soy infant formula contains up to five times more phytoestrogen than is required to affect the menstrual cycle in women (13). Based on a work by Dr. Fitpatrick in New Zealand, in 1996, the UK Government Committee on Toxicity issued a warning about the possible effects of soy consumption. In contrast, the corresponding authority in New Zealand (ANZFA) in its evaluation of March 1999, confirmed more hidden, the fact that soy protein constitutes a risk for sexual maturation, sexual differentiation, fetal and neonatal brain development and the functioning of the thyroid. For more information: www.soyonlineservice.co.nz
Immunosuppressive Effects of Soy Components: Children at Risk
(Doerge, Daniel: Environmental Health Perspectives, June 2002, Supplement 3, 349-353).
In studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (of the USA) it was reported that soy infant formulas can impede the functioning of the immune system of children since their daily consumption of certain immunosuppressive compounds of soy it is 200 times more than what is consumed by children who are fed breast or cow's milk.
Researchers at the University of Illinois discovered that genistein, a phyto-estrogen compound in soy, prevents the production of antibodies, both from B cells (which protect against bacteria and toxins) and from T cells (which defend the body against viruses .) In mice injected with this compound, the amount of immune cells was reduced by 86% and the size of the thymus was decreased by 80%. When genistein was administered in food, the reduction of immune cells was from 10% to 25%. The researchers concluded that, because of the risks of using soy formulas for children and supplements for adults, they should be "used with caution."
Dr. Daniel Doerge, from the Division of Biochemical Toxicology of the National Center for Toxicological Research investigated the effect of genistein on the thyroid and concluded that it only causes thyroid toxicity in combination with other factors including iodine deficiency, consumption of other components of soy and diet. Doerge highlights / points out our ignorance on the subject and therefore the need for serious and rigorous research on the human toxicity of soy. Already, in 1999 (Feb 18), Drs. Doerge and Sheehan, then FDA soy experts (Food and Drug Administration - United States Food and Drug Administration) sent a letter of protest to the same FDA for having approved soy foods described as "beneficial" and "healthy." They noted in said communication that: "There is abundant evidence that some of the isoflavin in soy, including genistein and equol, produce toxic effects in estrogen-sensitive tissues and the thyroid. In addition, isoflavin inhibits the production of T3 and T4 cells and this is expected to lead to abnormalities including gout and autoimmune thyroiditis. There is substantial data from animal studies showing that soy products cause gout and even carcinogenic effects. "
Doerge, DR. "Goitrogenic and estrogenic activity of soy isoflavones," Environ Health Perspect 2002 Jun; 110 Suppl 3: 349-53 http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/soydoerge.htm
Argentina: Republic of Soya (14)
Faced with the socio-economic collapse in Argentina, a new solution to the hunger problem has been imposed that forces millions of people to consume a diet based on soy, genetically modified (transgenic) for animal feed. The "Solidaridad Soja" campaign promotes soy as a high quality food for human consumption, rich in essential amino acids that serves as a substitute for meat, cheese and milk and proposes that soy producers donate one in a thousand tons produced and that the transportation and gasoline companies collaborate in the distribution of this "food aid" throughout the country. The campaign is sponsored by GM soy producers, Chevron, Texaco, Cargill, and others. Donated soy goes to the poor, to soup kitchens, orphanages, hospitals, community programs and the Catholic Church is key to its implementation. Approximately one million people receive these contributions.
Milk, meat and cheese are out of reach of the budget of the majority of the population but thanks to the advertising campaign of Solidaridad Soya, it is believed that the consumption of soy is a nutritional substitute for these products and machines are even donated to express "milk. of soy "to schools to give to children because there is a shortage of milk" and, for the first time in its history, Argentina has to import it. Andrés Britos, from the Center for the Study of Child Nutrition (CESNI) of Argentina, asserts that, Given the fundamental role of milk in infant feeding, its substitution by so-called soy "milk" will lead to calcium deficiency, which inhibits growth and causes bone malformation, and a lack of assimilable iron can therefore cause anemia. The juice extracted from the bean should not be called "soy milk", but this is precisely what the Solidaridad Soy campaign does while the government turns a blind eye. In addition to the direct consumption of soy a, many of the cheap processed foods contain up to 50% soy to give consistency and volume to foods like hamburgers, cookies and pasta etc.
Argentina, which used to export food, is now starving as it exports thousands of tons of animal feed. Jorge Rulli, from the NGO Grupo de Reflexión Rural affirms that the transformation of Argentina from being a producer of food and animals for human consumption to a producer of animal feed, the world's second largest producer of transgenic soy, has had a high social and economic cost. economic. Most of the global soybean production is GM soy resistant to the herbicide "Round-up" (called RR or Round-up Ready) manufactured by the same company that produces the GM soybeans. More than half of the soy grown in the world is RR soy. Large-scale monoculture of RR soybeans and the same technology based on the extensive use of herbicides has displaced many rural workers and farmers, causing poverty and hunger.
Soy cultivation spreads in Argentina like a cancer, deforesting forests at the rate of 1000ha per year, which will lead to greater flood problems in the future. But it is already evident that weeds are acquiring resistance to glyphosate, which means that soon, RR soy will lose its agronomic advantage and to maintain its control over the agro-productive system, corporations will have to design new combinations of resistant poisons-seeds and thus it will continue in the vicious circle of poison.
It should be noted that the transgenic soy that is grown and now promoted for human consumption in Argentina is "Round-up Ready" or "RR" soy that resists the Round-up herbicide application (glyphosate) manufactured by Monsanto who also developed and sells the soybeans RR. The use of glyphosate has increased 4-5 times as it is applied throughout the crop cycle. Consequently, residues of the herbicide glyphosate in food increase. Jorge Kaczewer (National University of Buenos Aires) explains (15): "Until the advent of glyphosate-tolerant transgenic crops, the maximum limit for residual glyphosate in soybeans established in the US and Europe was 0.1 milligrams per kilogram. But, as of 1996, these countries raised it to 20 mg / kg, an increase of 200 times the previous limit. Such an increase is due to the fact that glyphosate-producing companies are requesting permits to approve the presence of higher concentrations of glyphosate. glyphosate in foods derived from transgenic crops. " He continues: "These traces of glyphosate and its metabolites in transgenic soy are also present in legume-based foods. Analyzes of glyphosate residues are complex and expensive, so they are not routinely performed by the government in the United States ( and never made in Argentina). " The table below (15) lists some studies on the toxicity of soy and its products.
SUBSTANCE TOXICITY / FUNCTION / MECHANISM / SYMPTOMS
PHYTIC ACID Antinutrient. Blocks the digestive absorption of minerals (Ca, Fe, Mg, Zn). Those corresponding to mineral deficiencies. Katz Solomon H., "Food and Biocultural Evolution: A Model for the Investigation of Modern Nutritional Problems", Nutritional Anthropology, Alan R. Liss Inc., 1987; Sandstrom, B. et. al., "Effect of protein level and protein source on zinc absorption in humans", J-Nutr, v. 119 (1), Jan 1989, pp. 48-53; Tait, Susan, et. al., "The availability of minerals in food, with particular reference to iron", J-R-Soc-Health, v. 103 (2), April 1983, pp. 74-77
TRYPSIN INHIBITORS Antinutrient, growth depressant. They block the action of trypsin and other enzymes necessary for protein digestion. Gastric disorders, reduced protein digestion, deficiency in amino acid absorption. Rackis, J.J., et. al., "The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background, objectives and procedural details", Qual-Plant-Foods-Hum-Nutr, v. 35 1985; On its inducing potential for pancreatic cancer: JP Harwood et al., Adv Exp Med Biol 1986 199: 223-37 and "The effects of long-term feeding of soy flour on the rat pancreas," Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 1980; 15: 497-502 Leviton, pp. 14-15. 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, 1982, p. 12
HEMAGLUTININ (LECTIN) Growth depressant, coagulant. It agglutinates the red blood cells reducing their absorption of oxygen.
STACHIOUS, RAFFINOSE Carbohydrates Difficult degradation in the human intestine Meteorism, intestinal disorders.
ISOFLAVONES (GENISTEIN, DAIDZEIN) Thyroid toxicity.Inhibitors of thyroid peroxidase (POT), an enzyme involved in the production of T3 and T4.Hypothyroidism.Autoimmune thyroiditis.Thyroid cancerSheehan DM. Herbal medicines, phytoestrogens and toxicity: risk: benefit considerations. PSEBM 217: 379-385, 1998 Sheehan, D.M. and Medlock, K.L. Current issues regarding phytoestrogens. Polyphenols Actualities, 13: 22-24, 1995. Van Wyk et al., The effects of a soybean product on thyroid function in humans. Pediatrics 24: 752-760 (1959) Hydovitz JD. Occurrence of goiter in an infants on a soy diet. New Eng J Med 262: 351-353 (1960). Shepard TH. Soybean goiter. New Eng J Med 262: 1099-1103 (1960). Ripp JA. Soybean induced goiter. Am J Dis Child 102: 136-139 (1961). Pinchera A et al. Thyroid refractoriness in an athyreotic cretin fed soybean formula. New Eng J Med 273: 83-87 (1965). Fort P et al. soy-formula feeding feedings in infancy and prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease. J Am Coll Nutr 9: 164-167 (1990). Ishizuki Y et al. The thyroid effects of soybeans administered to healthy subjects. Nippon Naibunpi gakkai Zasshi 67: 622-629 (1991). Chorazy PA et al. Persistent hypothyroidism in an infant receiving a soy formula: case report and review of the literature. Pediatrics 148-150 1995. Jabbar MA et al. Abnormal thyroid function tests in infants with congenital hypothyroidism: the influence of soy-based formula. J Am Coll Nutr 16: 280-282 (1997) Divi RL et al. Anti-thyroid isoflavones from the soybean. Biochem Pharmacol 54: 1087-1096 (1997) Carcinogenic Effects Breast Cancer Petrakis, 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. Dees, C. et al., "Dietary estrogens stimulate human breast cells to enter the cell cycle", Environmental Health Perspectives (1997) 105 (Suppl. 3): 633-636.
MANGANESE The soy plant absorbs it from the soil and concentrates it In infants, its excess cannot be metabolized and is stored in organs. 8% is stored in the brain Risk of developing brain and behavioral disorders that do not become evident until adolescence
ALUMINUM metal toxic to the nervous system and kidneys. High concentrations in derivatives due to processing with acidic substances in aluminum tanks. Renal toxic effect in infants, causal factor of Alzheimer's disease in adults NITROSAMINES,
NITRITES AND LYSINOALANINE. Carcinogenic effect Formed during high temperature and pressure processing
1. J Nutr, October 1999, 129: 1927-1930. Website of the Iowa Sate Univerisity ISU Extension Iowa State Univerisity. News and Reports 12.Nov 19992. Land and Food Forum, Soy and children: Considerations about soy in food, preliminary document, National Council for the Coordination of Social Policies, Buenos Aires, January 2003 http: //www.jornada .unam.mx / 2003 / feb03 / 030224 / eco-cara.html
3. Ferrao, Nirmala Soyabeans: Truths, Half-Truths snd Lies,
4. Fitzpatrick M, "Am I Isoflavones: Panacea or Poison?" Submission to FDA. www.soyonline.com.
5. Rackis, J J, "Biological and physiological factors in soybeans", Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society, 51: 161A-170A, Jan 1974.
6. Lepkovsky, S, "Antivitamins in Foods", Chapter 11, Toxicants Occurring Naturally in Foods, National Academy of Sciences 1966.
7. Tait, S, "The availability of minerals in food, with particular reference to iron", Journal of Research in Society and Health, 103 (2): 74-7, April 1983.
8. Liener, I E, "Emagglutinins in Foods", Chap 6, Toxicants Occurring Naturally in Foods, National Academy of Sciences 1966.
9. Cydney L Fenton, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences and member of the US Endocrine Society; Merrily Poth, MD, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences - www.emedicine.com/ped/topic1881.htm.
10. Lancet 1997 Jul 5, 350: 9070, 23-7.
11. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1998 Mar 217: 3, 247-5.3.
12. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 195 Oct 24 215: 3, 1137-44.
13. Guy, C, "From Pink Pills to Phytoestrogens", Womens Health Watch September / O
14. Backwell, Ben: "Soya Republic"; The Ecologist: Vol 33 # 1 pp24-27 February 2003 http://www.ciudad.com.ar/ar/portales/cotidiano/nota/0,3104,43734,00.asp
15. AmbienteNews Special Edition - October 10, 2002 - ELECTRONIC BULLETIN ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY. [email protected]
SUBSTANCE / TOXICITY / FUNCTION / MECHANISM / SYMPTOMS
PHYTIC ACID Antinutrient. Blocks the digestive absorption of minerals (Ca, Fe, Mg, Zn). Those corresponding to mineral deficiencies. Katz Solomon H., "Food and Biocultural Evolution: A Model for the Investigation of Modern Nutritional Problems", Nutritional Anthropology, Alan R. 74-77 TRYPSIN INHIBITORS Antinutrient, growth depressant. They block the action of trypsin and other enzymes necessary for protein digestion. Gastric disorders, reduced protein digestion, deficiency in amino acid absorption. Rackis, J.J., et. 12
HEMAGLUTININ (LECTIN) Growth depressant, coagulant. It agglutinates the red blood cells reducing their absorption of oxygen.
STACHIOSA, RAFINOSE Carbohydrates Difficult degradation in the human intestine Meteorism, intestinal disorders ISOFLAVONES (GENISTEIN, DAIDZEIN)
Thyroid toxicity Inhibitors of thyroid peroxidase (POT), an enzyme involved in the production of T3 and T4, Hypothyroidism, Autoimmune thyroiditis, Thyroid cancer, Sheehan DM. Biochem Pharmacol 54: 1087-1096 (1997) Carcinogenic Effects Breast Cancer
Petrakis, N.L. 3): 633-636 MANGO The soy plant absorbs it from the soil and concentrates it In infants, its excess cannot be metabolized and is stored in organs. 8% is stored in the brain Risk of developing brain and behavioral disorders that do not become evident until adolescence ALUMINUM metal toxic to the nervous system and kidneys. High concentrations in derivatives due to processing with acidic substances in aluminum tanks. Renal toxic effect in infants, causal factor of Alzheimer's disease in adults.
NITROSAMINES, NITRITES AND LYSINOALANINE. Carcinogenic effect Formed during high temperature and pressure processing
* Coordinator RAPAL-VE: Network of Action in Alternatives to Agrotoxics of Venezuela