Testimony to the CERHR Soy Infant Formula Panel
Thank you for the opportunity to testify about this very serious subject today. Allow me to summarize the testimony I have submitted to the panel (posted at http://cerhr.niehs.nih.gov/evals/genistein-soy/SoyFormulaUpdt/pubcom/GailElbek11-28-09.pdf).
Several published studies, confirmed by CFSAN (Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition) director Dr. Mike Shelby, have concluded that soy is an active estrogenic endocrine disruptor. Proper functioning of the endocrine system, especially during developmental time-frames must not be jeopardized. Overwhelming numbers of published studies conclude soy repeatedly jeopardizes developmental health.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) reports that soy phyto-estrogens demonstrate estrogenic effects equal to or lower than doses of DES estrogen; in 2002, NIEHS researcher Retha Newbold expressed concern when her colleagues demonstrated that soy genistein “triggers reproductive abnormalities. . . including uterine adenocarcinoma, a rare form of cancer.” And what is toxic to the reproductive tract is toxic to multiple hormone systems throughout the body and brain. Also like DES estrogen, the maternal consumption of soy products transfers estrogenic hormone disruptors to her fetus and again to her child while breast feeding. Several hundred studies overwhelmingly conclude soy phyto-toxic causation of an assortment of severe, painful and often irreversible neurological and physiological disorders, and these diseases are more often caused during developmental exposures. Soy-based formula as 100 percent of an infant’s dietary intake contains active estrogenic and anti-nutrient endocrine disruptors.
Alarmingly, milk formulas are increasingly contaminated with soy, and therefore “lactose intolerance” may more likely be a result of intolerance to soy phyto-toxins.
Soy is proven to mimic or antagonize estradiol, a most potent and dangerous endogenous estrogen. Soy phyto-estrogens also abnormally manipulate ER-alpha and ER-beta hormone systems, further disrupting extensive endocrine systems throughout the entire body and brain.
Largely during developmental exposures, soy endocrine disruptors disrupt the reproductive system and are toxic to multiple hormone systems. Along with all estrogenic chemicals, soy is established as extensively damaging to the reproductive system of both females and males. Soy is reported as an accumulative endocrine disruptor capable of multiplying endocrine disruptor adverse effects. And these effects are transgenerational, passing damaging endocrine disruptor effects from generation to generation. The FDA Poisonous Plant Database includes “Soy bean, genistein and daidzein [soy estrogens]” on its list of poisonous plants. Developmental exposures to soy estrogenic endocrine disruptors fail to meet several FDA codes and regulations.
SOY AND THE BRAIN
The fact that soy can feminize males and masculinize females is evidence of soy targeting the brain.
Overwhelming evidence proves that soy disrupts several neurotransmitter systems such as vasopressin, oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, choline and GABA, causing multiple direct and cascading damaging brain effects. Disrupted neurotransmitter systems are reported to cause autism, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, seizures, stuttering, ADHD and multiple other neurological disorders.
Several important essential enzymes such as tyrosine and trypsin, which are critical during development, are dangerously inhibited by soy, resulting in an assortment of physiological and neurological adverse health effects.
The FDA Federal Register 1999 reports that trypsin inhibitors cause deleterious effects on the pancreas, with potential to cause hyperplasia and formation of nodules. Soy contains very high levels of trypsin inhibitor.
SOY AND THE THYROID
Many studies indicate that soy can cause hypothyroidism, which then contributes to an assortment of adverse effects, especially to the vulnerable fetus, infants and children. Soy inhibits thyroid peroxidase and disrupts thyroid hormones T4 and T3, causing abnormal thyroid development and function. Soy disruptions of thyroid hormones are also related to the cause of immune deficiency disease and damage to Purkinje brain cells. This damage is related to the cause of autism.
SOY AND THE THYMUS
Soy is reported to cause significant damage to the thymus, again leading to damaging effects to the immune system and cerebral cortex of the brain.
SOY AND CANCER
Soy also inhibits topoisomerase II (Topo II), another essential enzyme, causing DNA distortion and breakage, resulting in chromosomal alterations. Leukemia is reported in detail as caused by Topo II inhibitors.
In 2004, the US Department of Environmental Molecular Medicine reported soy causation of oxidative DNA damage, which can lead to tumor initiation and cell proliferation. Soy is reported as capable of causing leukemia, testicular, breast, uterine, bladder, stomach, colon, intestinal, pancreatic and kidney cancers as well as lymphomas.
Oncologists often suggest the elimination of soy products during cancer treatment due to soy’s estrogenic ability to promote cancers or to interfere with chemotherapy.
Soy is loaded with anti-nutrients: the FDA Federal Register 1999 reports, “GRAS status of soy did not include a thorough evaluation of the safety of potentially harmful components, e.g. lysinoalanine, nitrites and nitrosamines, trypsin inhibitors, phytates and isoflavones.” This list includes several, but not all of soy phyto-toxins that are well known to damage multiple systems throughout the body and brain, especially during development.
Soy phytates inhibit the assimilation of multiple essential minerals necessary for proper brain and body development. In addition, processed soy products contain an assortment of heavy metals also known to cause neurologically and physiologically damaging effects.
There are no established FDA acceptable levels of multiple soy phyto-toxins during developmental exposures.
Alarmingly, soy phyto-estrogens and anti-nutrients can largely fluctuate plant-to-plant, thus product-to-product, so that no one knows how much of these soy phyto-toxins they are swallowing or placing in the mouths of their children.
Dog and cat food manufacturers are proud to label their healthiest pet foods with “Does Not Contain Soy,” while at the same time the American marketplace increasingly promotes soy products during pregnancy, to infants and to children, while sorely misleading the public with claims that these products are “nutritional.”
Soy infant formulas also contain an outrageous amount of corn syrup and sugar, also known to be developmentally debilitating. High levels of corn syrup and sugar lead to pancreatic damage, which interrupts insulin production, leading to infant and childhood diabetes type 1 and type 2. High levels of sweeteners also damage the thyroid and thymus glands.
Medwatch Adverse Health reporting system exposes numerous severe and potentially fatal diseases reported by parents who had fed their infants soy formula and are now confronted with the resulting severe and irreversible adverse health problems.
My neighbor Carol’s daughter is autistic, Vicki’s adult daughter is infertile, Kath’s adult son is infertile, Stephanie’s infant son has type 1 diabetes, Jean’s teenage son has extreme allergies, Janet’s son has immune disorders, Pam’s son has severe asthma. All of these children have one thing in common: they were all fed soy-based formula as infants. Two of the moms had also consumed soy-based diets during pregnancy.
In conclusion, trusting American parents deserve the right to know that soy is loaded with harmful phyto-toxins which scientific studies have shown to be highly capable of reversing the health of their children into a diseased and handicapped state.
In accordance with the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2009, I request that the Expert Panel enforce warning labels on soy products during pregnancy; withdraw soy-based formulas from the marketplace, or at the least enforce soy formulation prescriptions with mandatory physician follow-up as required in some European nations; stop the soy-added contamination of milk formulas and the daily increase of marketed soy-containing food products that target infants and children; and enforce a careful and precise physician reporting system of infants currently exposed to soy formulas, as well as the children and adults who have been exposed to soy formulas and are now experiencing severe and potentially life-threatening physiological, reproductive, and neurological adverse health effects.
Thank you for your time and dedication to ensure the best health of the fetus, infants, and all children.
TESTIMONY ON SOY INFANT FORMULA
On December 16, 2009, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) panel on soy infant formula (a division of the National Institutes of Health) heard public testimony on soy infant formula. Only two individuals presented information on the dangers of soy formula, Gail Elbek, a private citizen who had traveled all the way from Santa Barbara to give testimony (summarized above), and Sally Fallon Morell from the Weston A. Price Foundation. The other speakers were all from the industry or were taking part in government-funded research, including Thomas Badger, PhD, and Martin Ronis, PhD, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Haley Stevens, PhD, of the International Formula Council, David Bechtel, PhD, CANTOX U.S., Inc. (a consulting firm dedicated to “facilitating timely regulatory approvals”), and Larry Williams, MD, Abbott Nutrition (maker of soy infant formula). Without blushing, these “experts” assured the committee that soy infant formula was safe and did not have estrogenic effects. Stevens of the International Formula Council insisted that there was “no new evidence” that would warrant a re-evaluation of soy formula and complained about “alarmist” literature that was scaring parents away from this “safe and healthy choice.”
The good news is that many parents have been scared away. Over the last ten years, the proportion of formula-fed babies has declined from 22.5 percent to 12 percent. As Fallon Morell pointed out in her testimony, the tragic consequences of soy infant formula are falling most heavily on minority mothers participating in programs like Women, Infants and Children (WIC), where soy formula is routinely given to black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American mothers presumed to be “lactose intolerant.”
The final vote of the committee was one vote for “no concern,” twelve votes for “minimal concern” and one vote for “some concern.” Requests for warning labels on soy infant formula were completely ignored. The Weston A. Price Foundation has issued a press release on the hearing, posted at http://www.westonaprice.org/Soy-Formula-Panel-Caves-to-Industry-Pressure.html.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2009.