A new study reveals potential health problems associated with genetically modified (GM) crops.
For the study—a collaboration between Australian scientists and United States researchers—a group of 168 newly weaned pigs were studied. One group of 84 pigs was fed a diet of genetically modified corn and soy grain; the other, conventional feed, both over 22.7 weeks, according to Reuters. The corn and soy feed was obtained from commercial suppliers.
Other than the type of feed, everything else was identical, such as housing and feeding conditions. There were no differences in the two groups regarding feed intake, weight gain, mortality, and typical blood biochemistry measurements, according to the researchers, Reuters reported.
The pigs were slaughtered about five months later and were autopsied by veterinarians who were not told which pigs were in which group, according to Reuters. The researchers found that pigs fed a diet of GM grain had significantly increased stomach inflammation when compared to the pigs who consumed conventional feed.
In fact, 32 percent of the pigs fed the GM diet suffered from severe stomach inflammation compared to 12 percent of non-GM-fed pigs; inflammation was worse in GM-fed males compared to non-GM fed males by a factor of 4.0, according to Reuters. GM-fed females inflammation was worse by a factor of 2.2 when compared to non-GM-fed females and GM-fed pigs’ uteri measured at 25 percent heavier than non-GM fed pigs, according to the research.
The study, led by Judy Carman, an epidemiologist, biochemist, and director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Adelaide, Australia, appears in the June issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Organic Systems. The Australian researchers collaborated with two veterinarians and a farmer in Iowa in their study of the U.S. pigs.
The study adds to the continuing debate concerning GM crops, which are used in the U.S., Latin America, and other countries, noted Reuters. The team called for more, long-term animal feeding studies.
Meanwhile, biotech seeds are altered genetically to grow into crops that have a high tolerance for herbicides and pests. Critics say that the DNA changes that create the so-called “transgenic plants,” created from DNA from other bacteria and species, also creates new proteins that can lead to the digestive issues seen in this study. These adverse health effects could potentially occur in humans who consume these crops, wrote Reuters.
We previously wrote that another study linked GM corn to cancer in rats. That study found that rats who were 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, according to a French study, wrote Reuters previously. The lead researcher for this study has a reputation for being an industry critic, which is expected to spark even more controversy over genetically modified food crops.