In an article about soya by the Guardian’s consumer reporter, Felicity Lawrence tells some shocking facts about the bean. I will summarise a few points but full article can be read via this link. http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1828088,00.html
Soya is in 60% of all processed food, from cheese to ice cream, baby formula to biscuits.
For Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, the saga of soya began in Monty Python-style with a dead parrot. His investigations into the ubiquitous bean started in 1991 when Richard James, a multimillionaire American lawyer, turned up at the laboratory in New Zealand where Fitzpatrick was working as a consultant toxicologist. James was sure that soya beans were killing his rare birds.
Over the next months, Fitzpatrick carried out an exhaustive study of soya and its effects. "We discovered quite quickly," he recalls, "that soya contains toxins and plant oestrogens powerful enough to disrupt women's menstrual cycles in experiments. It also appeared damaging to the thyroid." James's lobbying eventually forced governments to investigate. In 2002, the British government's expert committee on the toxicity of food (CoT) published the results of its inquiry into the safety of plant oestrogens, mainly from soya proteins, in modern food. It concluded that in general the health benefits claimed for soya were not supported by clear evidence and judged that there could be risks from high levels of consumption for certain age groups. Yet little has happened to curb soya's growth since.
50 years ago it was not eaten in the west in any quantity
To feed demand, new agricultural frontiers are being opened up in Brazil, where large areas of virgin rainforest have been illegally felled to make room for the crop.
Fitzpatrick, however, looked into historic soya consumption in Japan and China and concluded that Asians did not actually eat that much. What they did eat tended to have been fermented for months.
Raw mature soya beans contain phytates that prevent mineral absorption and enzyme inhibitors that block the key enzymes we need to digest protein. They are also famous for inducing flatulence.
Christopher Dawson, who owns the Clearspring brand of organic soy sauces, agrees. He lived in Japan for 18 years and his Japanese wife, Setsuko, is a cookery teacher. "I never saw soy beans on the table in Japan - they're indigestible."