100 billion animal study: GM feed is safe

The practice of using genetically modified (GM) crops in livestock feed has been a controversy since the concept was introduced almost two decades ago. However, a recent study published in Journal of Animal Science found that GM feed does not have a negative effect on the animals, and that they are about as nutritionally equivalent as animals that are not fed on GM crops.

According to a recent article, this conclusion was reached by Allison Van Eenennaam of University of California, Davis, who led a comprehensive analysis regarding livestock health between 1983 (13 years before GM crops were introduced) and 2011. This included a total of 100 billion animals collectively eating trillions of GM meals and is the most inclusive study of its kind to date.

Originally introduced as a cost-saving measure for farmers, GM crops now make up 90% of animal feed in the U.S. and has led to a common concern that GM food causes a host of physical ailments, including cancer in animals. Van Eenennaam’s study, as well as another previous published review finding similar results, ultimately concludes that there is no evidence showing GM feed poses a significant risk.

While these reports may quiet the concerns relating to GM crops in animal feed, the article states there are a host of other concerns involving animal safety and environmental issues. These include heavy antibiotic use in livestock, water and energy waste resulting from the high amount of meat consumers are eating today, animal living conditions, and “Ag-gag” measures that have turned whistle blowing on factory farms into a criminal offense.

While these concerns still need to be addressed, the ongoing conversation regarding GM crops and their safety now has important new findings for both producers and consumers around the world.

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