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He says he was in four prisons within the state system and consumed much of the same things for his meals in each. Once he was released, he asked for copies of his medical record to document his plight, and says he contacted the foundation when he heard about the soy litigation because his prison grievances were not taken seriously.

A spokeswoman from the Illinois Department of Corrections did not return a call for comment.

Spokeswoman Stacey Solano told the Associated Press that her department “takes the health and nutritional needs of its offender population seriously,” noting that many studies have found soy safe.

Soybeans are important to Illinois’ agricultural economy, with the state ranking second in the nation in soy production. A trial in the case could take place sometime at the end of the year or in early 2013. The state sought a dismissal, but a federal judge ruled that the case could move ahead to trial.

Ms. Fallon Morell said her foundation began receiving calls from inmates in 2007 “from really desperate men.”

“I couldn´t ignore their cries for help,” she said. “People have criticized us for helping prisoners, but the next place this is going to be big-time is in schools. And growing children should not be fed all this soy.”

She argued that inmates who emerge from prisons with chronic health problems will continue to cost society in the long run, many unable to work because of chronic problems. She mentioned one prisoner who had consumed a high soy diet for nine years in prison and required an operation when he got out.

“His doctor said he had all the symptoms of being poisoned,” she said.

She said the lawsuit does not seek damages but should create awareness for an issue that deserves attention. “I’m hoping this will be the next asbestos, and attorneys will start to take these cases as contingencies.”