Soybean is a major ingredient in many foods, including alternative baby formulas and as a milk or wheat replacement.
Some allergens in soybeans, however, can trigger allergic reactions or intolerance, and soybeans are one of eight on the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALPA).
Now, a University of Arizona professor may have found a way to breed a nearly allergen-free soybean.
Beginning in 2003, Professor Eliot Herman and his colleagues began targeting the P34 allergen in soybeans, believed to be responsible for the most common soy allergy. They genetically engineered it out of the bean, but ran into roadblocks with federal restrictions on GMO use.
So the University of Arizona professor started over, this time targeting naturally husbanded strains of soybean that are low in P34.
Conventional breeding methods paid off
After screening 16,000 varieties of soybean to find one that lacked the P34 allergen, conventional breeding methods lead to a new variety that also lacked the agglutinin and trypsin inhibitors – proteins believed to be most responsible for soybean’s anti-nutritional effects. Those effects are often bred out of soybeans used for market, especially in animal feeds, due to their tendency to inhibit the body’s ability to absorb some nutrients from soybeans and related foods.
A decade of crossbreeding and work produced the new soybean, which they’re calling Triple Null. Because it is not a genetically modified organism under the federal guidelines, it can be grown organically and sold as such. It’s also eligible for modification by producers who wish to add specific traits such as weed control resistance.
The research team is now proceeding to efficacy testing for the new soybean to prove its allergen-free capabilities.