Study: GMO Feed is Making Pigs SickJun 12, 2013
An important new study has found that pigs fed a diet of genetically modified (GM) grain—and no other grain—had significantly increased stomach inflammation when compared to pigs fed conventional feed.
The study, conducted by a team of Australian scientists and United States researchers was published in the June issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Organic Systems. The researchers collaborated with two veterinarians and a farmer in Iowa to study the U.S. pigs, according to Reuters.
The study adds to issues concerning GM crops, which have sparked an intense debate on the health impacts of these foods, which are used in grown in the U.S., Latin America, and a number of other countries, Reuters pointed out.
The study, led by Judy Carman, an epidemiologist, biochemist, and director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Adelaide, was conducted over a period of 22.7 weeks. Study participants were 168 newly weaned Australian pigs who were tested at a commercial U.S. piggery, according to Reuters.
One group of 84 pigs consumed a diet of GM soy and corn; the other group of 84 consumed an equal, but nonGM diet. Corn and soy feed was obtained from commercial suppliers and the pigs were raised in identical housing and feeding conditions, said Reuters. The pigs were slaughtered about five months later and autopsied by veterinarians who were not advised of the pigs’ origins—GM diet group or control group.
According to the researchers, no differences were seen between the GM diet and control groups as far as feed intake, weight gain, mortality, and routine blood biochemistry measurements, wrote Reuters. Differences were seen in stomach inflammation.
Pigs from the GM diet group had an increased rate of severe stomach inflammation—32 percent of GM-fed pigs compared to 12 percent of non-GM-fed pigs, with more inflammation in GM-fed males compared to non-GM fed males (factor of 4.0) and GM-fed females compared to non-GM-fed females (factor of 2.2), Reuters explained. The research also found that GM-fed pigs had uteri that were 25 percent heavier than non-GM fed pigs. The researchers called for more long-term animal feeding studies.
Another, recent study found an association with GM corn and cancer in rats, adding to the growing controversy over GM crops. The study revealed that rats fed a diet of Monsanto’s GM corn or who were exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer suffered from tumors and multiple organ damage, a French study found, according to a prior Reuters report. Interestingly, the lead researcher in this study is a well-known industry critics.
So-called “biotech seeds” have been genetically altered to better tolerate herbicides and resist crop-damaging pests. These transgenic crops—crops which contain genetic material into which DNA from a different organism has been artificially introduced—have been the focus of a fierce debate, notes Reuters. In fact, critics have long argued that these DNA changes create new proteins that can lead to digestive problems, not only in animals, but potentially to humans, as well.