GM animal feed poses no risks to animal or human health
GM feed affects the health of animals and may affect the humans who eat their products
Most GM crops go into animal feed. The GM industry and government regulators claim that meat, eggs, and dairy products from GM-fed animals do not need to carry a GM label because GM molecules – DNA and protein – are broken down in the animals’ digestive tracts and is not detectable in the final food product.
But this assumption is false. Studies have found:
- GM DNA present in animal feed has been detected in milk sold on the Italian market, though the authors of the study said it was unclear whether the source of the GM DNA was ingestion by the animal or external contamination.112
- GM DNA in feed was taken up by the animal’s organs and detected in the meat and fish that people eat.113,114,115,116
- GM feed was found to affect the health of animals that eat it. GM DNA from soy was detected in the blood, organs, and milk of goats. An enzyme, lactic dehydrogenase, was found at significantly raised levels in the heart, muscle, and kidneys of young goats fed GM soy.117 This enzyme leaks from damaged cells during immune reactions or injury, so high levels may indicate such problems.
- Bt toxin protein was found circulating in the blood of pregnant women and the blood supply to their foetuses, as well as in the blood of non-pregnant women.65
- MicroRNAs (molecules that affect gene expression) of plants have been found in the blood of mammals that have eaten them and were biologically active in those mammals, affecting gene expression and the functioning of important processes in the body. While this study was not carried out on GM plants, it showed that plants that are eaten, including GM plants, could exercise a direct physiological effect on human and animal consumers.118 The study suggested that the saying, “You are what you eat”, may have some scientific credibility.
Given the growing evidence that a diet containing GM crops can damage the health of animals, there could be risks associated with the consumption of products derived from GM-fed animals. We conclude that the argument that meat and dairy products from GM-fed animals do not need to carry a GM label cannot be scientifically justified.