Media Advisory

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Independent Panel to Evaluate Whether Genistein or Soy Formula is Hazardous to Human Development or Reproduction

What: An independent panel of 14 scientists convened by the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR), of the NIEHS and National Toxicology Program, will review recent scientific data and reach conclusions regarding whether or not exposure to genistein or soy formula is hazardous to human development or reproduction. The 2.5 day meeting is open to members of the public and the media. A press availability period will immediately follow the meeting at approximately noon on Friday, March 17.

When: Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Thursday, March 16, 2006, 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Friday, March 17, 2006, 8:30 a.m.– noon
Press Availability: Friday, March 17, 2006 approximately 12–1p.m.

Where: Jefferson Ballroom
Radisson Hotel Old Town
901 N. Fairfax Street, 
Alexandria, VA 22314-1501, USA 
Tel: (703) 683-6000
Fax: (703) 683-7597

Why: Exposure to genistein continues to rise in the United States with estimated soy sales in 2003 approaching $4 billion.* A form of genistein is a primary, naturally occurring estrogen in soybeans (estrogenic chemicals in plants are called phytoestrogens) and can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Genistein can be found in foods containing soy such as soy-based infant formulas, tofu, soy milk, soy flour, textured soy protein, tempeh, and miso, as well as over-the-counter dietary supplements. Soy-infant formulas are widely used. It is estimated that 10-20 percent of infants in the United States are fed soy formula.***** It is often administered to infants as a supplement or replacement for maternal breast milk or cow’s milk.

Soy products are often promoted as a natural, safe way to achieve at least some of the benefits of hormone replacement therapy in adults, but there is growing public concern about the long-term effects of consuming soy. There is a need to look at available evidence from reproductive and developmental animal and human toxicity studies, as well as exposure data from infants and women of reproductive age, to determine if phytoestrogens in soy infant formulas adversely affect human growth, development, or reproduction. The draft report on genistein is available for review at

 The soy formula draft report is at

Background: The Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) was established by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) as part of the National Toxicology Program in 1998. CERHR convenes a scientific expert panel that meets in a public forum to review, discuss, and evaluate the scientific literature on a selected chemical. CERHR selects chemicals for evaluation based upon several factors including production volume, extent of human exposure, public concern, and the extent of published information on reproductive or developmental toxicity. The NTP is an HHS program established in 1978 that is headquartered at the NIEHS, a part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIEHS Director, Dr. David A. Schwartz, serves as the NTP Director.

Registration: No registration is required. Members of the press interested in attending or conducting on-site or phone interviews with any of the scientists, please contact Robin Mackar at (919) 541-0073 or by email at She will schedule interviews for the press availability period immediately following the meeting. Details about the meeting, including panelists and agenda, are posted on the NTP website

* Soyfoods-Association-of-North-America. Soyfood Sales & Trends. Available at Soyfoods Association of North America. 2003. 

** Essex, C. Phytoestrogens and Soy Based Infant Formula: Risks Remain Theoretical. British Medical Journal 1996; 313: 507-508. 

*** Strom, B. L., Schinnar, R., Ziegler, E. E., Barnhart, K. T., Sammel, M. D., Macones, G. A., Stallings, V. A., Drulis, J. M., Nelson, S. E. and Hanson, S. A. Exposure to soy-based formula in infancy and endocrinological and reproductive outcomes in young adulthood. Jama 2001; 286: 807-14.

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