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GMO Soybeans Compared to Conventionally Grown & Organic Soy

As I discussed in the video, Are GMOs Safe? The Case of BT Corn, genes from GMO crops were found in pregnant women. There is debate on the direct threat of the inserted genes, but the real danger may come from pesticides associated with genetically modified foods. As stated in an article published in Science and Engineering Ethics, “genetically engineered seed biotechnology typically has not been used to increase crop yields, nutrition, or drought tolerance but instead for profitable pesticide-resistant products… 80% of GMO crops are bioengineered only for pesticide resistance. Not surprising, given that the top five biotech companies are chemical companies that manufacture pesticides.”

This allows farmers to spray herbicides directly onto the crops, raising a theoretical possibility that the levels of herbicide residues on food we buy at the supermarket may have increased. Or at least it was theoretical… until now.

Monsanto’s roundup-ready soybeans are the number one GM crop, genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide, Roundup—also sold by Monsanto. This allows farmers to spray fields with the Roundup herbicide glyphosate, which then kills the weeds while leaving the soy standing.

Monsanto maintains that roundup ready soybeans are compositionally equivalent to that of conventional soy, a concept that is used to argue that GMO foods are therefore as safe as non-GMO. Monsanto did not report the level of pesticide residues, however. In fact, some of the comparison tests were done on Roundup-ready soybeans that hadn’t been sprayed at all, which is the whole point of having Roundup-ready plants. In contrast to real-life samples from the market, transgenic crops intended for scientific studies are often produced without the application of herbicides or at doses lower than those typically used by farmers. It wasn’t until a study published in 2014 when the full composition of ready-to-market soybeans was analyzed.

You can see the analysis in my video, Are GMOs Safe? The Case of Roundup Ready Soy. There was a significant amount of glyphosate found in the GMO beans, along with a glyphosate breakdown product called AMPA. There was no glyphosate or AMPA found in organic soy. What about conventional non-GMO soy where glyphosate is just sprayed on the soil to kill weeds between crop cycles? Also none. So, GMO soybeans are really not equivalent; they appear to have substantially more pesticide residues. The debate then shifts from the safety of Roundup ready soybeans, to the safety of Roundup itself.

I discuss whether or not the glyphosate residues on GMO soy are something to be concerned about in my video Is Monsanto’s Roundup Pesticide Glyphosate Safe?

More on GMO soy can be found in my video GMO Soy and Breast Cancer.

What can happen when food industries self-regulate? See, for example:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More Than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


35 responses to “GMO Soybeans Compared to Conventionally Grown & Organic Soy

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  1. When I was young, I was once paid to spray Round-Up on all the weeds in a soybean field with a spray bottle. This was obviously before GMOs allowed for spraying the bean plants as well. Ahhh, the good old days!




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  2. Much of the GMO soy ends up as animal feed, so I wonder if some of the Roundup accumulates in the tissues of the animals, which would mean meat eaters consume glyphosate indirectly.




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    1. I believe this would be correct. It’s also possible that we are all indirectly ingesting some of this nasty herbicide; either through cross-contamination in fields, or via ways we are not even aware … scary thought. If one is going to eat meat, they should know the source and be sure it’s grass-fed.




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  3. To say the least, glyphosphate is controversial. Last year the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified it as a probable human carcinogen. Its report caused the state of California to anticipate adding glyphosphate to its list of human carcinogens. That aroused Monsanto, which then sued California. Big money is at stake here, along with the health of millions of people. We guinea pigs may not learn the actual level of harmfulness to us for decades, and meanwhile Monsanto will profit enormously. Until all parties agree that glyphosphate is absolutely safe, this is one substance that we should probably not consume, and that means avoiding eating GMO soybeans, or any animal that consumes GMO soybeans.




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    1. With or without glyphosate, soybeans tend to be an endocrine disrupter unless they have been fermented. So, in general, soybeans are not a good food for humans to eat, and this is especially true for people who are sensitive to high histamine levels in food for whom even fermented soybeans should be avoid. In addition, from what I’ve heard from some farmers, soybeans are not the best food for cattle, either.




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      1. Where is the evidence for your claims regarding human health?

        Very high quantities are endocrine disruptors in rats, apparently. To my knowledge, however, there is no evidence of harm in humans consuming soy. Several thousand years of soy consumption in China, Japan and Korea at levels much higher than in the west have not, it seems, demonstrated any such problems either.




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        1. In the orient, soy has been used as a condiment, and mainly in fermented forms, not generally as a main dish. Very small quantities were traditionally ingested. A healthy body can usually handle small amounts of most toxins, which may or may not lead to a shorter life span. It will depend on how much cumulative damage the body sustains over an extended period. For those of us who have sustained measurable damage it is not a good idea to be subjected to additional stress from food known or suspected of having toxic properties.

          It is known that in ancient times, Buddhist monks incorporated larger amounts of soy into their diets to make it easier for them remain celibate.

          In regard to your false assertion of no research demonstrating human harm, it is difficult to demonstrate since we don’t experiment on humans. However, since we share the majority of our genes with the animal kingdom, so while animal studies are not necessarily definitive, they are strongly suggestive, especially when they are congruent with human meta studies, and these have been done and quite a number have been published in medical and scientific journals. There are meta studies on children fed infant formula during their first 12 weeks of life, a period where infant levels of reproductive hormones spike to adult levels, apparently resulting in gender imprinting before returning to the much lower levels. The findings appear to be that infants fed soy based infant formula during this critical initial 12 week period following birth, tend to grow up with substantially more problems with confused feelings about their gender. The boys in the studies tended to have a gender crisis in which they frequently thought that they were girls and often grew up behaving as girls, while girls had a tendency to reach puberty by the age of 8, similar to what was found in studies with female animals. Look it up on the web. Use the word research as the first word in your search followed by words such as soy, infants, infant formulas, and gender crisis.

          By the way, would you please disclosure any financial relationships that you have, either directly or indirectly, with the GMO and/or soybean industry. Your statements suggest a strong bias in favor of soy and soy products, and I wonder why.




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          1. Dr. Howard: Many of the participants here on NutritionFacts are “pro-soy” for traditional soy products (tofu, soy milk, tempeh, edamame, etc) because of the science. If you watch all of the videos here on NutritionFacts regarding soy, you will see what that means, including the many human studies on the topic. Note that each video has links to the original science if you want to check for yourself.
            .
            I have zero financial connections to any foods, other than that I buy them. Tom Goff is a long time and well respected participant on this forum. There’s absolutely no call for insinuating he has financial ties to the soy industry. It has become common practice on the internet to assume that if someone disagrees with you, they must be a secret agent for a business or industry. That may be true in some cases, but you have no reason to believe that is what is going on here. You are too new to this forum to be making those kinds of accusations. Even though you are new, I won’t be questioning your financial ties. I will be doing you the courtesy of assuming that you come by your beliefs honestly.
            .
            Back on the actual topic: If you want to know ***what the science says*** about soy, check out the following well-done summary/topic page: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/soy/ If you click the links on the topic page, you will get to those NutritionFacts pages which have more details, including references to the original studies.
            .
            As for all Asian cultures using soy as a condiment, this information contradicts that belief: How Much Soy Is Too Much?: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-soy-is-too-much/ Note this information: “So we know 7 to 18 servings of soy a day may neutralize some of the beneficial effects of avoiding animal protein; at the same time studies have repeatedly found that women who eat lots of soy appear to have a lower risk of getting breast cancer and a better risk of surviving breast cancer than those who don’t. So is there some magic number of soyfood servings we should shoot for? … So far we know that somewhere between 7 and 18 is bad … in Japan, three servings a day cleared the IGF radar.” In this older video, Dr. Greger shows studies indicating that between 3 to 5 servings a day of soy is safe. It would be important to note though, that because we need a balance of foods in our diet, Dr. Greger’s recent Daily Dozen (system for eating) recommends only 3 servings of beans a day, which can include the traditional soy products as mentioned above.
            .
            Your belief that animal studies are so relevant contradicts the current trend in science which is recognizing how inadequate animal studies are when we are trying to figure out whether a substance is safe for humans or not. The American congress just passed a law (I think it got passed anyway) that says that when we test substances for human safety, we can’t use the old/outdated and generally ineffective animal testing any more. We have to use modern, more effective techniques. PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) has several pages with information on this topic. I’ll attach another reply/post with some details for those people who are interested.
            .
            What I find odd is why you think that soy is bad for us. As shown on this site, there are plenty of human studies showing that soy is good for us and plenty of reasons to believe it. What you have going for your argument is a few old animal studies. I understand that you have believed this information about soy for a long time. But now you have new and updated information to learn. Why not take a little time to do so?




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            1. ARE ANIMAL STUDIES “strongly suggestive”???

              I used to think that animal testing in medical research was a sad necessity if we wanted to continue making progress in human medicine. Thanks to the Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM), I have since learned that this is far from the truth. Guess how many drugs/studies show promise in animal testing, but fail for humans? The majority! Which leads to the obvious reverse question: How many drugs/medical fixes do we miss because we only test them on non-human animals? Are there other methods that are more effective? Is this blurb over-stating the flaws of non-human animal testing? You be the judge. Check out some of the latest information:

              **********************
              Modern Methods Should Replace Animal Experiments for Medical Progress

              …..In addition to the obvious arguments about ethics, a new commentary published by NPR details some of the less well known ethical problems with animal experimentation, such as poor translation between animal data and the human experience.
              …..Garner S. The ‘necessity’ of animal research does not mean it’s ethical. NPR. February 14, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2016/02/14/464265210/the-necessity-of-animal-research-does-not-mean-it-s-ethical.

              **********************
              Tox21 Tests 10,000 Chemicals without Animals

              The U.S. government’s Tox21 program, which uses robotics for large-scale in vitro toxicity screening of chemicals, recently tested 10,000 chemicals and concluded that in vitro test data performed better than animal tests in predicting human toxicity, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications. The authors say that toxicity testing conducted using animal models is expensive and that it is often difficult to extrapolate the test results to human health effect because of species differences.

              Huang R, Xia M, Sakamuru S, et al. Modelling the Tox21 10 K chemical profiles for in vivo toxicity prediction and mechanism characterization. Nat Commun. Published online January 26, 2016.

              **********************
              Innovative Technology Identifies Heart Toxicity Without Using Animals

              University of Toronto engineers developed laboratory-grown heart tissues that mimic actual human heart tissues. TARA Biosystems now offers the innovative technology known as Biowire, to test heart toxicity for pharmaceutical companies. Engineers microfabricated the Biowire platform by creating innovative scaffolds for the cells to grow on, seeding the cells, and using electrical currents to stimulate the heartbeat, in order to train the cells to behave as they would in a human. This existing human biology-based technology seeks to identify negative human effects early in development and eliminate animal testing for heart toxicity.

              Irving T. Lab-grown heart cells to improve drug safety. U of T Engineering News. http://news.engineering.utoronto.ca/lab-grown-heart-cells-to-improve-drug-safety/. Accessed February 22, 2016.

              **********************
              Also from PCRM:

              Preclinical experiments on chimpanzees and other animals failed to predict a death and injuries in a recent drug trial. Physicians Committee experts explain in Independent Science News and The Hill why animal experiments don’t work and why the FDA should accept human-focused tests.

              …..——-
              Animal Test Details Emerge in French Drug Trial Death

              …..A new report details how preclinical drug experiments on animals failed to predict the death of one man and the hospitalizations of others in a Phase 1 clinical trial in France in January.

              …..Rats, mice, dogs, and monkeys were all used in the preclinical toxicity tests, but “no ill-effects were noted in the animals, despite doses 400 times stronger than those given to the human volunteers,” according to the Agence France-Presse. In the affected human patients, the drug had “astonishing and unprecedented” reaction in the brain that was “unlike anything seen before.”

              …..Learn more about the issue in “FDA: Accept human-focused preclinical tests to improve drug safety,” a new blog by Elizabeth Baker, Esq., the Physicians Committee’s senior science policy specialist for toxicology and regulatory testing.

              AFP. ‘Unprecedented’ brain reaction caused French drug trial death: experts. http://news.yahoo.com/unprecedented-brain-reaction-caused-french-drug-trial-death-203314931.html?nf=1http://news.yahoo.com/unprecedented-brain-reaction-caused-french-drug-trial-death-203314931.html?nf=1.

              **********************
              To learn more about the dangers of relying on animals for human drug testing and how modern technologies can stop the next pharmaceutical catastrophe, read Averting Drug Disasters (http://www.pcrm.org/media/good-medicine) in the latest issue of Good Medicine magazine.

              Bisserbe N. Drug’s toxicity caused clinical-trial death, panel says. http://www.wsj.com/articles/drugs-toxicity-caused-clinical-trial-death-p…. Accessed April 25, 2016.​




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              1. I found it! The info on the new law I mentioned in the previous post:
                .
                “VICTORY: This week, Congress passed historic legislation that will reduce animal testing and improve chemical safety. Read comments from the Physicians Committee’s Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., in The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/sweeping-overhaul-of-nations-chemical-safety-laws-clears-final-legislative-hurdle/2016/06/07/85df0654-2cc2-11e6-9de3-6e6e7a14000c_story.html




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          2. I am sorry but the claim that in Asia soy is consumed as a condiment is absurd. The idea that soy is consumed only in quantities equivalent to salt, pepper,soy sauce chilis etc beggars belief. It is quite simply false. As is your claim that I made an “assertion of no research demonstrating human harm”. What I wrote is on the record in black and white.

            I challenged you to provide evidence of long term harm from soy wholefood consumption, noting that I was aware of very little and this was outweighed by evidence of benefit some of which I cited. You have cited nothing but you have made vague references to stories about Buddhist monks, unreferenced allusions to rat studies (which in fact you gave the impression were human studies) and unreferenced claims about highly processed infant formula foods. incidentally, I have no doubt that infant formulas of any kind are an unhealthy alternative to breast milk and that there are studies demonstrating this. In fact I am aware of the studies about soy infant formulas but these are obviously not soy whole foods and are therefore irrelevant to the argument I put forward.

            Once again I invite you to provide evidence of long term adverse health consequences from consuming soy whole foods. And, additionally, I invite you to explain why Asian societies with thousands of years of history of consuming significant quantities of soy, do not and have not demonstrated significant detrimental effects from doing so.

            I regard your comment about financial disclosure as a fairly typical attempt to try to divert discussion away from the evidence and towards some improbable and imaginary conspiracy.. However, for the record, I state that of course I have no links with soybean industry, financial or otherwise, or indeed with any industry whatsoever. My interest is in the evidence (and I don’t actually like soy since it is pretty tasteless).

            In the interest of reciprocity, would you state your academic qualifications and the name of the institutions that awarded them? I am intrigued by your posting name of Dr Howard. I have no relevant qualifications of any kind by the way.




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            1. Since you claim no connection with commercial soy interests, I owe you a public apology, which I am hereby giving.

              I have two doctorates. The first is from Princeton University, class of 1968 from the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Sciences. The second is from Life University, class of 1982 in Chiropractic.

              I too am retired and writing a book on health and nutrition of a very practical nature, describing what I have found that works to help restore health, having been using these methods myself as well as with patients over the years, especially in the area of type-2 diabetes.

              I will state for the record that it will take some digging to remember where I put the references to properly support my position on soy, as it was formulated a number of years ago and I have other current projects that take precedence at this time. So I will temporarily concede the point to you on this matter.

              My problem with soy and a number of other foods that have been reported to be endocrine disruptors based on animal studies (other than the infant studies on soy derivatives, is that the findings have a high probability of being applicable to humans, especially if the Buddhist monk reports are correct, in conjunction with the known therapeutic uses of soy to effect female estrogen cycles. It is a stress that has to be handled, and minimizing stress of all types appears to be the most effective way to help to both restore and maintain health. Therefore, it is safer, based on the animal research that I believe you accepted, to recommend that one avoid soy, in all forms but fermented. I will grant that people with apparently no chronic health problems may be able to eat unfermented soy, but I have questions about how safe it is for them in the long run. If one’s health is not optimal it appear to me to be wiser to take the safer road.

              Apparently your information and my information on the actual of use of soy products in Asian countries, over the centuries, is at odds. Which of us is correct is a mute point. I have personal reasons to adopt the safe approach that I’ve outlined above, and arguing mute points is not productive, but it has been interesting.

              Thank you!




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        2. When I went through Menopause decades ago, I consumed soy to reduce hot flashes and it worked very well, then. However, I do not recommend that anyone consume it today, given of what it has done to humans, livestock, pets, and honey bees.
          “EU regulators raised the allowed maximum residue limit (MRL) for glyphosate in imported soy 200-fold, from 0.1 mg/kg to 20 mg/kg.”

          The levels in animal feed in the US is far higher.. Animal feed nongrass is 400 ppm.
          Soybean, forage, 100 ppm;
          Soybean, hay200.0Soybean, hulls120.0Soybean, seed
          20.0 [date June 27, 2016]




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          1. I am sure that there are thousands of dubious websites making all sorts of claims about soy. The evidence does not seem to support them. Societies that consume much higher levels of soy than the US do not appear to have major health issues as a consequence.
            Nor do I see why the permitted amount of glyphosate in animal feed should be a reason to avoid soy sold for human consumption. In any case, organic soy should contain little or no glyphosate.
            I am very wary of websites putting forward these 2+2=5 arguments for why soy must be bad for us when the balance of evidence indicates it is actually beneficial.




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  4. The question is STILL, IS THE GMO CROP SAFE TO EAT!?!?! Do some animal studies on that, more than the three months currently required by the government. The study needs to be extended for at least a YEAR. Until this is done, we have no idea of how safe these genetically manipulated foods are to human consumption. I also might add, that there are studies from Europe that have indicated a possible detrimental effect to liver and kidney function. JUST DO THE DARN RESEARCH!!




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  5. I think it is important to consider not just whether GMOs are safe to eat but also whether they are safe to grow (for the farmers who spray the pesticides) and how safe the pesticides are for the environment. Do these pesticides decay fast enough to avoid contaminating ground water or some other environmental collateral damage?




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      1. The evidence doesn’t show this! What it shows is that when other factors which are indications that soybeans appear to be detrimental to human health are ignored, then under certain very selective conditions one can manipulate statistics to make it appear that there is a correlation (which may effectively be virtually non-existent in terms of an actual percentage of the general population) with what is defined for the purposes of that particular research study as being in a state of health. Most research of this type defines lack or regression of overt symptoms as making a person healthy. Masking or just controlling symptoms is not health, and ignoring other symptoms, possibly involving other body systems is not an appropriate way to define the state of being healthy. Dead people are also asymptomatic other than being 100% non-functional. However, their diabetes appears to be permanently cured. If a chemical were to appear to strengthen the heart, while in the background, it destroyed the reproductive system would you really call that healthy positive findings that show that the chemical is beneficial to human health? In addition, showing that no immediate widespread harm can be definitely documented beyond a shadow of a doubt, has no bearing on whether there are or are not long term detrimental effects.




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        1. Agreed that these are just associations but this fact can hardly be used as an argument that soybeans are unfit for human consumption or that there are long term detrimental effects.

          If you are arguing this, perhaps you would then provide some evidence of long term detrimental effects in humans consuming whole soy foods? To my knowledge, there is very little and that is balanced or outweighed by evidence suggesting a beneficial effect.

          Soybeans have been consumed for thousands of years in China (and almost as long in Japan and Korea). Where is the evidence from those societies of long term harm from regular and/or high consumption of these legumes (in whole food form)?




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            1. To be honest, I had a pretty good idea where you were coming from when I saw your first post. You have not disappointed.
              However, i feel compelled to point out that you have still not provided any evidence to substantiate your claims.




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              1. Now that I understand, if I have it right, that you are talking exclusively about whole, non-GMO soybeans, I have a couple of additional thoughts to share with you.

                It may or may not be safe to eat whole soybeans. I still don’t think that it is safe and you do, and you may be right in terms of a person who is in excellent health. If one is in excellent health a person can handle quite a lot of stress of all types and be expected to suffer no long term damage because their repair processes are fully operational and intact..

                I did a quick web search and it appears that the soy contains one of the highest concentrations of phytoestrogen compounds of any food, and there is indeed human research that demonstrates that the phytoestrogen concentrations are high enough to have an effect on humans who ingest them. Here’s a reference from an Israeli study:

                Soy as an Endocrine Disruptor: Cause for Caution?Article (PDF Available) in Journal of pediatric endocrinology & metabolism: JPEM 23(9):855-61 · August 2010

                I am not using this article to say that soy is good or bad, only that whole soy actually contains chemicals that can have a direct effect on one or more of our endocrine organs (systems), and while the phytoestrogens are at low concentrations in the plant, these concentrations morph into high blood concentration levels following ingestion. Any chemical that can do this is by definition an endocrine disruptor, whether it disrupts in an advantageous or a deleterious manner.

                Please keep this in mind, and lets pretend that you don’t have definitive research that demonstrates and delineates exactly what the effect of ingesting these estrogen disrupting compounds will be on a specific individual. Please consider the following question.

                If you were the doctor of a person who is not blessed with pristine health, would you advise that person to take a risk on receiving possible internal injury from eating this food, if there were suggestive animal studies, but you were not aware of any human studies, that provided a plausible reason that it might not be good for mammals to ingest it?

                This is a position that a doctor, with knowledge of nutrition, is placed in with regard to foods classified as estrogen disruptors. This is that same position that the doctor is in with respect to foods classified as goitrogens. Personally, with the number of people in our society who express signs of potential thyroid, sexual, or pancreatic problems, I would be loath to blatantly suggest that either endocrine disruptors of goitrogens be ingested on a regular basis in a state that their disruptive chemicals are still active. In other words, I would not recommend that plants in the mustard family be eaten raw or the soy be ingested unless fermented, except on rare occasions.

                There are some healthy people that may be able to safely eat these and for the most part any other foods. However, there are a lot of others with conditions, whether diagnosed or not, that would be stressed, possibly to the point of degenerative injury, were they to eat estrogen disrupting foods on a regular basis.

                It appears to be the general nature of people to ignore the possibility that they may be injured through their choice of foods until it is too late. I’ve done it. Haven’t you? If you haven’t, consider yourself blessed.

                I trust that you now understand where I’m coming from and why. With animal and limited human research suggesting that concern might be warranted, I want to see definitive research that soy is safe to eat in the presence of our current environmental toxins and our current state or quasi health.

                In contrast, it appears to me that you want to declare that soybeans are safe in their whole food form, because there is a lack of definitive human research to the contrary and because soy apparently was safely eaten in the Orient in the past, but without showing that the environment and individual life style hasn’t changed in ways that effectively invalidate such a comparison.




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                1. Thanks for your response.

                  The problems I have with the animal studies is that they often concern isolated components (eg genistein) not soy itself, involve very high quantities not likely ever to be consumed in real life, and of course are of (usually) rats not humans. This can be very misleading. Consuming water in very high doses is toxic. Consuming isolated components from whole foods such as refined carbs is unhealthy whereas high carb whole foods tend to be health-promoting. Humans also do not always respond the same way as lab animals.(witness the recent disastrous French drug trial),

                  I am also conscious of the tact that populations that have and often still do regularly consume soy in significant amounts are not observed to exhibit higher than “normal” endocrine related diseases or cancers. Quite the opposite if I recall correctly. Even the Israeli study you referred to acknowledged “The difference in cancer risk in Asian vs.Western populations should also be addressed. Asian men consume 5–10 times more phytoestrogens than Western men, and exhibit low rates of incidence and mortality of breast, prostate and colorectal cancers33,50”.

                  My position therefore is that there is no evidence of overall/net harm in people consuming whole soy foods while there is some evidence of benefit. Including in respect of endocrine related diseases. That is not to say that I do not accept that processed soy products like infant formula and TVP are probably harmful. I do accept that. But virtually all highly processed foods are harmful. Problems with processed foods are not unique to soy.




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                  1. I completely agree with what you have said, and your comment on the discrepancies when populations from different areas are concerned.

                    For me the problem comes in when one has to make recommendations to people who either have health problems or have a high probability of having health problems of the type that could be impacted by some aspect of a specific type of food, in some or all of its forms, even unprocessed. With soy these aspects are associated with its high level of phytoestrogens, which are present and at high levels even in whole, unprocessed soy. Then, even if inconclusive research suggests that there could be a problem, I believe that the recommendation for those particular individuals need to be against the utilization of that food.

                    The rules for interpreting research need to be reversed when there is a reason to suspect that there is a possibility that there may be a condition that could be impacted. In such cases, inconclusive findings are given the benefit of the doubt and become good reasons to recommend against the use of the food. In which case it is improper to recommend that one eat the food without conclusive research findings that the food is safe for that particular person. It is only if one is certain that a person is healthy in all ways that a food could impact them that the argument for conclusive research findings becomes valid. It is a fine point that may not be obvious.

                    Since estrogen is antagonistic to thyroid hormone activity, anyone with the possibility of any type of thyroid problem needs to be advised to avoid the possibility of being exposed to high levels of phytoestrogens on a regular basis. whether or not there are definitive, published, uncontroversial, peer reviewed, research studies demonstrating danger.

                    For example, one sign of a thyroid problem is often a weight problem in conjunction with difficulty losing weight. This is not definitive, but is suggestive of the possibility of either an overt or sub-clinical thyroid condition that might be helped or aggravated by nutrition depending on how it is applied. Since modern medicine does not, in general, deal with sub-clinical conditions, such condition are often ignored until they get bad enough that pharmaceutical agents can be prescribed, though the patient may be monitored if their condition get bad enough to show up as a potential problem on physical testing.

                    In the case of thyroid problems, the medical experts on the cutting edge, who use natural means of treatment, whenever possible, suggest that iodine insufficiency and halogen based disruptors are involved to the extent that it would appear that very few people in our western civilization have not been exposed and possibly affected to some extend. This is probably the main reasons that I espouse the need for extreme caution in recommending soybeans as a general purpose, healthy dietary food. Some people are probably ably to deal with it, but it is very difficult to determine who, so it appears to be better to recommend that people avoid it. To recommend it as a safe food to eat may be paramount to playing Russian roulette with peoples lives. I would rather recommend against its use, even if I’m wrong, and demand definitive research that demonstrates that it is perfectly safe for long term utilization for people living in our Country, and if that is impractical, then showing under what conditions it is safe. This research has not been done. We are not in the Orient, and changing to a healthy vegetarian diet is not guaranteed to correct a sufficient amount of the damage that a bad diet, essentially from birth, may have caused, so that we know that it is safe for people with potential thyroid, prostate and/or breast problems to ingest foods that inherently provide higher amounts of phytoestrogen chemicals. We don’t have a way of determining that this is safe for people raised on a Western diet, and because of our having been raised on bad diets that have led to higher probabilities of manifesting diseases of the endocrine glands (pineal gland, pineal gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus, gastrointestinal tract and adrenal glands) the proof of safety requires a much higher standard. In this case one can not say that it must be assumed safe unless proven otherwise. One must instead take the opposite view and say that is must be assumed that it is not safe unless proven to be absolutely safe, even in the long term, until it is absolutely proven otherwise.

                    I take this very seriously because I have a diagnosed thyroid condition, and over the years I’ve seen a lot of patients with thyroid and potential thyroid conditions. These conditions do not suddenly appear full blown. They come on subtly over a period of many years, so subtly that they are usually not noticed for a long time. As a result, I do not feel that soybeans should be ingested in any form, other than fermented, and then in moderation.

                    Just because a person switches to a better diet, perhaps even the best diet possible, does not mean that all the damage done by the previous poor diet automatically reverses. It may take years for sufficient damage to reverse before they are really healthy. We currently have no way to measure it. Lack of overt symptoms is not a good definition of health.

                    Because of this reasoning, I don’t eat soy based foods at all and I don’t eat foods in the mustard family in their raw state other than on a very occasional basis, as they contain chemicals that are inactivated by heat but are reported, in the raw state, to have goitrogenic properties, and with a known health problem in this area, I would rather not take the chance of putting additional stress on my body, and I can not in good faith recommend that others should do so, if I wouldn’t.

                    I know that this website is about what the research shows. But taking that as gospel can be easily interpreted in ways that can be misleading, because there are too many factors for the research to be complete inclusive. General recommendations can not be made universally without their being wrong for some people.

                    I appreciate your taking the time to argue with me. It has helped me to clarify my thoughts in this area, and will help to make the nutrition book, that I’m writing, clearer and more understandable, when I eventually complete it.




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                    1. Thank you for setting out your reasoning in such detail.

                      I understand your position but do not think that it accords in all respects with current expert assessments. Soy whole foods are just that and do not just contain specific endocrine disruptors. It should also be remembered that soy isoflavones are protective against more powerful endocrine disruptors as well as being mild endocrine disruptors in their own right.

                      In fact there is some evidence that moderate to high consumption may be protective eg the rates of endocrine related cancers in countries consuming relatively large amounts of soy (referenced previously), lower mortality risk )previously referenced) and other related issues.
                      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16965235
                      http://blogs.cancer.org/expertvoices/2012/08/02/the-bottom-line-on-soy-and-breast-cancer-risk/
                      http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/soy.html
                      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20571498
                      http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/858057
                      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22158125

                      Similar arguments apply to your position regarding soy consumption and thyroid health, although I acknowledge that people with subclinical hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism may be best advised to avoid soy. However, these conditions should be diagnosed using appropriate testing.
                      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16571087

                      Finally, I should note Jack Norris’ summary of the issues and evidence concerning soy:
                      http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/soy_wth#fn116

                      Good luck with the book!




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                    2. Dr. Howard: I liked Tom Goff’s reply to your post. I have a *slightly* different perspective to offer, but one I wanted to share. Is your book a general book about nutrition or one about the thyroid? Consider the following information about phytoestrogens:
                      .
                      “Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like compounds found in a variety of plant foods such as beans, seeds, and grains, though they are concentrated in soy foods and flax. Phytoestrogens appear to be helpful in the prevention of diabetes and cancers of the colon, liver, brain, breast, ovaries, and skin. “Bad” cholesterol appears to be reduced, cardiovascular risk decreased, and weight loss increased when they are consumed. Soy phytoestrogens do not decrease male fertility; however, xenoestrogens, which are found mainly in fish, have been shown to drastically lower sperm counts. Replacing dairy with soy may decrease abdominal fat.”
                      .
                      The above quote comes from the following page. http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/phytoestrogens/ If you follow the link, you can click through to other pages with links to the scientific studies supporting each of the above statements. The overview of soy itself is also helpful: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/soy/
                      .
                      Here’s The Point: Our #1 killer is heart disease and soy may help lower someone’s LDL cholesterol. Other top killers are various types of cancer and soy helps prevent or stop re-occurrence of several types of cancer. If you are going to talk about soy in your book and you are concerned about people’s overall health, surely you could not caution people away from a food that has so much positive evidence going for it–at least without discussing the positives along with the negatives. (And pointing out that the evidence for negatives are generally old animal studies.)
                      .
                      Meanwhile, there is all sorts of good information about thyroid disease on this website. For your viewing pleasure: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/thyroid-disease/
                      .
                      If I were writing a book, I would tell people all about the likely positive benefits of traditional soy foods with a caution that adequate iodine intake is an important part of a healthy diet in order to avoid thyroid problems while eating these healthy foods. And people who already have thyroid problems may want to avoid soy and flaxseed.




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  6. Glyphosphate runoff is encouraging algae blooms in Lake Erie which have toxins that render the water undrinkable during certain weather conditions.




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  7. This site is untrustworthy. The minute someone says anything bad about non-gmo soybeans, some guy names Tom attacks, and someone named Thea backs Tom up no matter what.
    Something is very suspicious about this. So I can’t trust this site for any other information.




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