Anti-biotechnology advocates have again found a preliminary, laboratory experiment that appears on first glance to suggest that genetically modified foods may not be as healthy as their conventional cousins. This time the Center for Ethics and Toxics hopes that headlines around the world will warn shoppers that genetically modified soybeans contain fewer isoflavones, natural estrogenic compounds that may help treat menopausal symptoms or protect against some diseases, than conventional soybeans.

Like other recent biotech food scares - including a putative poison potato and a hypothetical butterfly hazard - concerns about phytoestrogens in transgenic soybeans are based on a single, small-scale study. The study was conducted by two long-term anti-biotech activists who work at CETOS (Gualala, Calif.), Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey, and two researchers at Children's Hospital Medical Center (Cincinnati, Ohio) who specialize in assessing the phytoestrogen content of foods, Chandra Childress and Kenneth Setchell. It will be published soon in the