A group of Illinois prison inmates suing over their mandated high-soy content diet are seeking court intervention even before the case goes to trial to halt the “retaliation” they are facing from prison officials.
“The tactics of Illinois prison personnel put the lives of the plaintiffs in danger and increase the liability issues for the state of Illinois,” said Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, in a statement this week.
WND reported last year when then-President-elect Obama was asked to intervene to halt the state feeding program that was causing health problems for inmates.
Morell at that time explained the state’s procedures are “poisoning” inmates.
“This is a diet based largely on soy protein powder and soy flour. As you stated on last night’s 60 Minutes Program, America does not condone torture. I think you would agree that what is happening in the Illinois prisons is a form of torture,” Fallon wrote at that time.
However, the nutritional organization’s request to Obama fell on deaf ears, and the inmates eventually filed a lawsuit over the forced diet. Now their request for a restraining order alleges they are being punished for their complaints.
Soy products have been in the news on and off since a study from Harvard indicated consumption of soy lowers sperm count.
The study suggested confirmation of a series of reports by WND columnist Jim Rutz, who described soy’s “feminizing” effect on men.
According to a report from Reuters, the study was done by Jorge Chavarro of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, whose work appeared in the journal Human Reproduction.
It reportedly is the largest study of humans to look at the relationship between semen quality and a plant form of the female sex hormone estrogen known as phytoestrogen, which is plentiful in soy-rich foods.
Last year’s letter to Obama said soy protein and soy flour are toxic, “especially in large amounts.”
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists 288 studies on its database showing the toxicity of soy. Numerous studies show that soy consumption leads to nutrient deficiencies, digestive disorders, endocrine disruption and thyroid problems,” the letter said.
WND contacted officials with the Illinois Department of Corrections, but officials declined to comment.
Officials with the Weston Price Foundation said Illinois prison officials have been targeting those who have filed complaints about the soy-laden diet with segregation and “other forms of cruel and unusual punishment.”
“I understand from our attorney handling the case that filing grievances is the only means inmates have for redressing wrongs,” said Morell. “Punishment for filing grievances violates basic constitutional rights.”
She said the targets of the retaliation have been the plaintiffs in Harris et al. v. Brown, the case pending in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois. The action seeks an injunction halting the use of excessive soy content in the prison diet.
The organization cited the treatment of one unidentified plaintiff who was put in solitary confinement “specifically for exercising his right to file grievances about the soy diet.”
“Although prescribed a soy-free diet because of a thyroid condition and a life-threatening reaction to soy products, many of the meals brought to him contained large amounts of soy,” the organization explained. “Thus, his four-month confinement became a period of forced starvation.”
The foundation explained the soy-based prison diet was installed in Illinois institutions shortly after Rod Blagojevich was elected governor in 2002.
“Beginning in January 2003, inmates began receiving a diet largely based on processed soy protein with very little meat. In most meals, small amounts of meat or meat by-products are mixed with 60-70 percent soy protein; fake soy cheese has replaced real cheese; and soy flour or soy protein is now added to most prison baked goods,” the foundation said.
Inmates have complained of a “deliberate indifference” to “serious health problems caused by so much soy,” it said, including chronic constipation alternating with diarrhea, vomiting, sharp pains, passing out, heart palpitations, rashes, acne, insomnia, panic attacks, depression and hypothyroidism.
The foundation said soy is promoted as a way to save money, but it, in fact, contains plant estrogens and other toxins that make it unacceptable as a source of nutrition except in small amounts.
Officials with the foundation said they had been working with the Illinois governor’s office to make him aware of the situation and seek a resolution.
The soy products are produced by Archer Daniels Midland, according to the Price Foundation.
The Price Foundation said ADM “contributed heavily to the campaign of Blagojevich. The change from a diet based largely on beef to one based on soy happened in 2003, when Mr. Blagojevich began his first term as governor.”
Morell said her office has heard from “dozens” of Illinois inmates pleading for help.
“Almost all suffer from serious digestive disorders, such as diarrhea or painful constipation, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome and sharp pains,” she said. “… One reason for these problems is the high oxalic acid content of soy – no food is higher in oxalic acid than soy protein isolate, which can contain … at least six times higher than the amount found in typical diets.”
Oxalic acid, the letter said, is associated with kidney stones, can disrupt heart functions, replace bone marrow cells and impair nerve functions.
“Now, I’m a health-food guy, a fanatic who seldom allows anything into his kitchen unless it’s organic. I state my bias here just so you’ll know I’m not anti-health food,” Rutz wrote.
“The dangerous food I’m speaking of is soy. Soybean products are feminizing, and they’re all over the place. You can hardly escape them anymore.
“I have nothing against an occasional soy snack. Soy is nutritious and contains lots of good things. Unfortunately, when you eat or drink a lot of soy stuff, you’re also getting substantial quantities of estrogens,” he continued.
“Estrogens are female hormones. If you’re a woman, you’re flooding your system with a substance it can’t handle in surplus. If you’re a man, you’re suppressing your masculinity and stimulating your ‘female side,’ physically and mentally,” he wrote. “In fetal development, the default is being female. All humans (even in old age) tend toward femininity. The main thing that keeps men from diverging into the female pattern is testosterone, and testosterone is suppressed by an excess of estrogen.
“If you’re a grownup, you’re already developed, and you’re able to fight off some of the damaging effects of soy. Babies aren’t so fortunate. Research is now showing that when you feed your baby soy formula, you’re giving him or her the equivalent of five birth control pills a day. A baby’s endocrine system just can’t cope with that kind of massive assault, so some damage is inevitable. At the extreme, the damage can be fatal.”
Read all of Rutz’s columns on soy for the whole story: