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WASHINGTON - Scientists from the U.S. Agriculture Department are developing a new type of soybean that could prevent allergic reactions in some children and adults, Reuters reports.
The new genetically altered soybean could eventually mean that many soy-sensitive consumers will be able to eat cereals, baby formula, snack foods, salad dressings and other foods that contain soybeans, according to researchers with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service and the University of Arkansas.
Six to eight percent of children and one to two percent of adults worldwide suffer from food allergies, mostly from soybeans, milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, fish and wheat. Of the soy-related allergies, more than half are linked to a protein known as P34. Researcher Eliot Herman, a USDA plant physiologist, said he has developed a strain of soybean plants in which the P34 protein is shut off.
Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a unit of DuPont Co., is field testing the new soybeans in Hawaii, where the climate allows for two test crops per year.
The new soybeans have been tested on baby pigs to compare the animals' reactions to those fed unaltered beans. Information from the pig studies could lead to clinical trials with humans, according to the USDA.