1.15—Eating soybeans increases soybean-specific IgG antibodies
GM soy did not cause an increase in soy allergies in the UK
Analysis of Peer-Reviewed Research:
Food allergy is a stressful and potentially lethal condition that causes enormous disruption for individuals and families. Making untrue, malicious claims about food allergy is simply cruel. There is little more that can be said here. The antibody tests that are the basis of this claim were not a test for allergy, so soy allergies cannot be said to have increased. The assays were performed before GM soy constituted more than a tiny fraction (less than 5 percent) of the soybean supply in the UK so that the antibodies measured were probably formed before GM soy arrived in the food supply. It is a matter of medical record that soy allergies didn’t “skyrocket” in the UK or EU—Jeffrey Smith’s exact term— and of course the timing is wrong. What we have from Genetic Roulette is more classic fear-mongering aimed at a topic that is very important to many consumers—particularly those who suffer from allergy or have friends or family members who are allergic to soy.
1. No allergies were found and the studies did not measure soy allergy. These studies have not been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature–they appeared on the York Laboratories’ website. The most significant problems with the claim that GM soybeans caused an increase in soy allergies are that the assays reported in the study cited don’t measure allergies (that is to say, allergies weren’t counted). York laboratories reported that antibodies against soybean proteins were measured in 10 percent of 4,500 individuals in 1996 and that number grew to 15 percent over six-months. The problem is that they measured normally occurring antibodies and did not measure the type of antibody that is specifically associated with soybean allergy. True soybean allergy in the UK remains well below 1 percent (see #4 below) that fact being no consolation for the unfortunate few who suffer from soy allergy.
2. GM soybeans could not have been common in the UK before this study was completed. Smith apparently didn’t notice the 1996 study date or didn’t want us to know that the assays were done before GM soybeans had arrived in the UK. Only 5 percent of US soybeans were GM in 1996 and it is likely that measured antibodies would have been most like formed against pre-1996 soybeans. The study has never been published and in spite of the fact that more than 70 percent of the world’s soybeans are GM soy, no evidence of their allergenicity has emerged.
3. Smith admits there is no evidence for increased allergenicity. Smith’s claims about potential allergenicity ignore the scientific literature and the conclusions of scientists in regulatory agencies around the world. At the very end of the section, he meekly admits that “it is not confirmed that GM soy caused the rise in UK soy allergies. The suspicious timing…..” But of course allergies were not measured in the study and the timing was wrong.
4. Increased soy consumption might lead to increased soy allergy. One might actually expect soy allergies to be on the increase as the result of growing consumer awareness of the possible health benefits of soy specifically, and a vegetable-based protein diet in general, that have led to an increase in soy consumption. About 0.1-0.2 percent of people may suffer from soy allergy but this number could increase with increased consumption of soybean derived proteins. It is important to note that such an increase in allergy will be due to the inherent allergenicity of natural soy proteins and not to the GM nature of the soybean.
5. There is no cause and effect relationship shown between GM soy and soybean allergy. Saying that something that occurred after an event is caused by the event is a logical fallacy called a “post hoc” or “post hoc ergo propter hoc” (after that therefore because of that) fallacy. Smith’s claims often contain such logical fallacies.
More information about soy allergy can be found at:
Soy allergies skyrocketed in the UK soon after GM soy was introduced.
- In a single year, 1999, soy allergies in the United Kingdom jumped from 10 percent to15 percent of the sampled population.
- GM was imported to the country shortly before 1999.
- Antibody tests verify that some individuals react differently to GM and non-GM soy varieties.
- GM soy also has an increased concentration of a known allergen.
GM soy is more allergenic than conventional soy and caused soy allergies to rise in the UK shortly after its introduction in 1999.