Dangers of Soy Based Food Products

By Allan F. Manning© (March 1997)

As you may be aware the 'Parrot Magazine' published by Ashdown Publishing Ltd., is not being published anymore. It closed down when the editor Vanessa Woodford left in August last year, Vanessa went to New Zealand and due to her interest in the preservation of our Parrots, she put me in touch with Richard James of the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Richard James has collected information on the subject of Soy bean based products that contain renown toxic sterility agents.

In the interest of conservation Richard James has asked me to pass on this rather disturbing information which because of its length and complexity I have somewhat precised the information.

BASIS OF THE FOLLOWING REPORTS

Sexual development in Wild Life, as in humans is controlled by the Endocrine system, a group of organs, tissues and cells that secrete hormones. The hormones interact with other cells initiating chemical biological reactions with far-reaching consequences. Male hormones are called androgens and female hormones are called Estrogens. Some chemicals disrupt the endrocrine system and one of these chemicals is found in Soy bean products. Therefore the only safe dose of this hormone disrupter of the endocrine system is zero. In birds these chemicals in any form or amount decrease fertility and progressively get worse within just a few generations. Evidence suggests these sex characteristics once imprinted may be irreversible.

Some of the information concerning the facts have been known and reported from way back in 1981. The following extracts of just a few of these reports and findings are as follows:

An extract from "DISEASES OF CAGE BIRDS" (T.F.H. 1987)

As in all animals iodine is required for thyroxin synthesis. a deficiency in the diet can result in decreased secretion of the hormone. Other factors can also stimulate the appearance of thyroid dysfunction. Many plants provide goitrogenic principles that inhibit thyroxin cynthesis even when iodine is adequately supplied. One of these plants is known to be soybean.

1987 REPORT ON CAPTIVE BREEDING CHEETAHS

Many North American Zoos cannot maintain their Cheetah populations because deaths have outnumbered births. In 1985 the Zoos reported 29 deaths and only 18 births of which 7 died before reaching adulthood. Analysis of their diet by high performance liquid chromatography and gas-liquid chromatography spectrometry, revealed large amounts of two phytoestrogens identified as daidzein and genistein. These compounds were found to be derived from a Soybean product that was a component of the Cheetahs diet. Therefore Zoos may be one of the major factors in the decline of fertility and in the etiology of liver disease in this species. Their survival in captivity could depend upon a simple change of diet by excluding exogenous estrogen.

THE POTENTIAL ADVERSE EFFECTS OF SOYBEAN PHYTOESTROGENS IN INFANT FEEDING REPORTED FROM CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY IN 1991 AND PUBLISHED IN 1994

It is well established that soybean products contain the phytoestrogen daidzein and genistein. The levels of these compounds in several Soy-based infant formulas have been measured, The quantities recommended by manufacturers for infants provide an intake of approximately three to five times as much diadzein and genistein that amounts which disrupt the menstrual cycle when fed to pre menopausal women. Exposure to the phytoestrogen during Soy formula feeding is a cause for considerable concern given the greater susceptibility of neonates to oestrogens and the likely duration of exposure through infancy. In other forms of life such as animals and birds the situation is much the same but enhances a much quicker effect as a result.

WARNING BY THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH IN NEW ZEALAND

It is unfortunate that concerns about Soy formulas have received a negative response from companies producing these products. Dr. Martin Edwards of the Ministry of Health stated he does not wish to unduly damage the industries concerned, but which is the greater tragedy, a loss of confidence in Soy products or a potential health risk to babies, animals and birds. According to Dr. Mark Messina soy formula manufacturers know their products contain phytoestrogens and millions of dollars have been spent on the anticancer properties of this substance, which obviously boosts its sales. But they have not bothered to study the effects of phytostrogens on infants, animals and birds etc.

LETTER TO RICHARD JAMES FROM A VETERINARY CLINIC IN WHANGAREI (BRUCE PICKFORD)

I have recently been on holiday in Canada and the USA, During a stay in Alaska I visited a Raptor rehabilitation centre in Sitka where I learned that they too used Soybean based granules as feeds for their chicks. They too have had some problems with mortality, early maturation of birds and suspicious deaths. The problem is increasing and information is urgently required concerning Soybean products.

"PARROT SOCIETY NEW ZEALAND" ARTICLE, BY VALERIE JAMES (NOVEMBER 1996)

In 1992 she was keeping and raising some of the native birds which she had been doing for some years on her own food formulas. However she started to use a commercially made food and her hobby suddenly became a nightmare when the chicks began to sicken and die. The food was promoted as scientifically developed and as such was not suspected initially. Autopsies of the dead birds indicated an immune system breakdown with the result of multiple organ failure and a lethal multiplication of the birds own benign bacteria. Survivors often had poor muscle control and matured prematurely, Some were also aggressive or displayed inappropriate sexual behaviour. a chemist carefully tested the food and found it contained a structure which was almost that of coumarin, a substance upon which most modern rodent baits are based. Coumarin was once allowed in small amounts in human food as an aromatic flavour enhancer but has long since been banned when it was shown to be cumulatively toxic when fed to animals. The three ingredients of the bird food were found to be Soy protein isolate (as in Soy infant formulas), Soy all and corn flour. There was no trace of this coumarin. However, it was discovered that there were three other plant structures similar to coumarin, all of which can occur in Soy.

They are:

1) The fungal toxin zearalenone - - caused by poor storage or poor growing conditions.
2) Coumestrol, this being present in Soy sprouts and sometimes in the beans.
3) Insoflavones which are always associated with say protein.

This occurs in very few other foods for human consumption although it does occur in beer causing the feminization of men who are heavy beer drinkers. Because of the similarity of their chemical structures zearalenone coumestrol and the isoflavones are phytoetrogens (that is estrogen derived from plants causing many of the symptoms noted in the birds). Further research was done and it was discovered that soy beans contain other toxins most of which are only partially reduced by modern processing and have shown in commercial products to cause ill health in animals. So the Soy content of the food especially the Soy isoflavones which are not significantly reduced by processing causes many problems for our animals and especially birds.

Research up to this date by bird keepers that have withdrawn all Soy based products from their birds diet have shown the disappearance of the problem. However birds and their offspring's previously exposed to Soy had continuing problems into the third and fourth generations.

CONCLUSION

Many problems have been highlighted and recognised as being related to feeding soy based products to our birds. The above examples are only a few extracts of many related reports from many different sources. Although they are all very disturbing the Soy problems relating to the retarding effect on the reproduction/fertifity systems of birds is causing the most concern as it appears to be irreversible. It seems bizarre that so many bird products currently in use are Soybean based even though many of the effects have been known and reported for some time now. Wild life preservation programmes have also employed Soybean products and supplements for adult animals and birds as well as infant feeds for cats and parrots etc. It is established clearly that all soy foods contain toxic substances causing chronic poisoning and endocrine system disruption at very low levels, This effects all forms of life that we feed it to including our own infants.

However, for our birds it is critical that something is done now as their are so many feeds on the market that rely on a Soy base. Our birds both for us private keepers and Zoos etc., are already becoming scarce without the addition of this very basic feeding problem we are now faced with.

MANUFACTURERS MUST TAKE NOTE THAT ALTHOUGH IT MAY BE A VERY COSTLY EXERCISE FOR THEM, AN ALTERNATIVE FEED BASE AND SUPPLEMENTS HAVE GOT TO BE FOUND URGENTLY.

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