Carst and Walker

GM feed for animals: just fine after 18 years

The safety of genetically modified (GM), or genetically engineered (GE), crops remains a controversial social, political and global topic. Seeking to provide some resolve to the debate, a newly published article — the most comprehensive to date — in the peer-reviewed Journal of Animal Science has concluded that feeding livestock diets that contain GM crops has no impact on their health or productivity.

A new analysis from the University of California Davis reviewed almost 30 years of livestock-feeding studies covering more than 100 billion animals and found that, though modern biology confuses the likes of Whole Foods shoppers, cattle are just fine with it: after 18 years of eating genetically-engineered food. there has been no difference.

The cows are identical, the milk is identical, the meat is identical. The sample size is huge, there are 9 billion new food-producing animals per year, and 95 percent of them consume GE ingredients.

The review found that the performance and health of food-producing animals that have consumed GE feed, first introduced 18 years ago, has been no different than animals consuming non-GE feed. The study also found no differences in the nutritional makeup of the meat or milk derived from animals that ate GMOs.

“Studies have continually shown that the milk, meat and eggs derived from animals that have consumed GE feed are indistinguishable from the products derived from animals fed a non-GE diet,” lead author and UC Davis animal genomics expert, Dr Alison Van Eenennaam.

“Therefore, proposed labeling of animal products from livestock and poultry that have eaten GE feed would require supply-chain segregation and traceability, as the products themselves would not differ in any way that could be detected.”

With next-generation genetically engineered crops coming soon, it’s time to synchronise the regulatory framework across national borders. EU Science Advisor Dr Anne Glover says her goal is to make Europe more like America when it comes to accepting science, and harmonising the policies of feed-importing countries with exporting providers is a necessary first step.

Feedstuffs Foodlink: Read more

Journal reference:

AL Van Eenennaam, AE Young, ‘Prevalence and impacts of genetically engineered feedstuffs on livestock populations’,
J Anim Sci 2014.92:4255–4278 doi:10.2527/jas2014-8124

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