GE animal feed? No thanks!

posted in: Farming, GE, Magazine Articles
Organic NZ Magazine: May/June 2013
Section: Farming and horticulture
Author: Frank Rowson
Frank Rowson, a veterinarian for 50 years, is a farm performance consultant for soil herbage, animals and humans.


A piglet with a deformed spine.
Dead and deformed piglets are a problem where GE soy feed is used,
and Danish pig farmer Ib Borup Pedersen is convinced this is due to
glyphosate residues. Glyphosate is linked with reproductive problems,
birth defects, spontaneous abortions and a reduced live birth rate.


Growing reliance on supplementary feeds

Because chemical farming is reducing the ability to grow quality feed and the ability to withstand the increasing number of droughts, there is growing reliance on imported feeds to supplement the diets of our farm animals, mainly dairy cattle.

Typically these feeds consist of or include PKE (palm kernel expeller), canola, cottonseed, soy, maize and DDG (dried distillers’ grains, from maize).

GE ingredients widespread

All these crops (apart from PKE) are likely to be genetically engineered, and feeds for horses, calves, chooks, pigs, cats and dogs that contain these crops, are likely to contain GE ingredients. There is enough evidence-based medicine to show that these products are not safe.

Latest figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) show that 193,000 tonnes of soy were imported as animal feed in 2012, 133,000 tonnes of which was from Argentina, so will almost certainly be genetically engineered (GE) to withstand glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup. I think GBH is still a criminal offence. Glyphosate based herbicides = GBH = grievous bodily harm.

Ib Borup Pedersen and his pigs

Danish pig farmer Ib Borup Pedersen with some of his piglets. When Mr Pedersen replaced GE soy feed with GE-free soy feed, he noticed improvements in his pigs’ health almost immediately. Within two days, diarrhoea had virtually disappeared. Farrowing and nursing was easier. Death by bloat or ulcers stopped. The management regime remained unchanged and Mr Pedersen didn’t tell his employee of five years that he’d changed the feed, but the worker realised within a few days that the feed was different – and better. Mr Pedersen has also saved money because the GE-free feed is cheaper and his medicines bill is reduced. www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/13882


Independent health monitoring needed

None of these feeds are monitored for health effects, our servants relying on the ‘science’ provided by the makers of these products – and we know how reliable they are, e.g. a 2005 report in Environmental Health Perspectives showed that 94 out of 115 academic studies on Bisphenol A (BPA) found it had toxic effects at low concentrations. At the same time none out of 19 studies sponsored by the food manufacturers showed those effects, and that is the problem of so much research being sponsored by industry – it is not independent.



Multiple health risks

There are many health risks of GE animal feeds. The GE process itself reduces mineral levels (calcium from 6130 mg/kg or ppm down to 14, magnesium from 113 down to 2, manganese and zinc from 14 down to 2, copper from 16 to 2 and cobalt from 1.5 to 0.2 – levels measured in maize). The Brix level incidentally dropped from 20 down to 1! We already have problems with deficiencies and here we are adding to that problem. In fact, I have industry figures showing that milk is woefully short of providing the necessary mineral levels for calves, e.g., less than 10% of the vitamin D, iron and manganese needed. So they are inferior feeds and are not ‘equivalent’ to non-GE, therefore should be subject to more vigorous testing.

A recent study found that all of the six main rivers in China tested positive for ampicillin-resistant bacteria, and the gene responsible is derived from a GE lab, suggesting GE is the source of ampicillin resistance found in humans.

GE DNA from soy and maize is found in milk from animals fed GE crops and, is not destroyed by pasteurisation. DNA from soy is found in the blood, organs and milk of goats, and showed raised levels of an enzyme that indicates cellular damage.

Gene VI, a new organism, is being found only in GE crops and in animals fed GE feeds, as reported by Professor Huber (see I-SIS Special Report 53, www.i-sis.org.uk), including soy – and we import nearly 200,000 tonnes of that! The scientists and vets who are finding this organism were so concerned they asked Professor Huber to write on their behalf to the US Agricultural Secretary Vilsack to obtain research funding.


Increased levels of proteins a health concern

In my submission to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) re GE soy from Dow Ag Sciences, I raised the issue of increased levels of proteins recorded in the company’s own data; this was dismissed by our servants in FSANZ because allergies already are caused by soy proteins, so there is no need to worry about the raised levels! One of the proteins, lectin, is known to destroy the lining of the gut, causing reduced food absorption and increased absorption of toxins, thus causing symptoms like ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and autism, all of which have increased hugely in the time GE foods have been available.


Glyphosate-based herbicides = GBH: Grievous bodily harm

The glyphosate herbicide, which is an integral part of these GE feeds, has never been proved safe, only the individual chemicals, which are far less toxic than the commercial products which contain AMPA, POEA, which we know about, and others. In the Roundup formulation the proven toxicity is more induced by POEA than glyphosate itself, yet this is not tested for in these feeds being fed to animals.

The recently published report on glyphosate by Antoniou et al (‘GMO Myths and Truths’, in which there are 158 references, seewww.earthopensource.org) states that glyphosate herbicides are endocrine disrupters at levels 800 times lower than the maximum residue levels (MRLs) that are used for animal feed. In this country those MRLs are 20 parts per million (ppm) but how do we know these GE (or non-GE) feeds comply with that, because they are not monitored? In USA, average levels of glyphosate in the urine of dairy herds ranged from 9 ppm to 104 ppm, so you can imagine the levels in the feed to produce those sorts of levels.

In addition to glyphosate being an endocrine disruptor, an I-SIS special report (of 10.10.2012) shows that Monsanto and the European Commission have known since the 1980s about birth defects linked with the herbicide. Glyphosate is also a neurotoxin and causes reproductive problems (how about the 30% early abortion rate in dairy cattle, according to figures from Dairy NZ?), spontaneous abortion, reduction in live birth rates, inflamed digestive systems and diarrhoea and nutrient deficiency. These effects will go through the food chain and affect humans; in fact, I have figures showing levels up to 60 ppm glyphosate in urine of people living in USA cities.


Toxins and fungi

The animal feed industry will tell you that 95% of global grains, forages and feed samples are contaminated by mycotoxins and over 75% of samples presented have three or more toxins. These cause reduced food intake and utilisation, altered rumen fermentation, reproduction problems and reduced immunity. We know the fungi involved, especially Fusarium spp. are stimulated by glyphosate, hence are found more in GE feeds, and, incidentally, are more of a problem in crops, e.g. fusarium wilt etc in grains, Phytophthera in grapes, and maybe PSA in kiwifruit.

GBHs cause increases in the virulence of pathogens, in addition to killing beneficial organisms, hence more botulism, salmonella etc. especially in chickens, and mycotoxins.


Feed your animals GE-free feed, and ban GE

I would urge all stock feeders and pet owners to source their feed, be it for chooks, calves, pigs, dogs and cats, from companies not using GE crops; there are a few and they should be supported. We should all be pushing our servants in government to ban GE before they cause the demise not just of the organic system but all farming in this country.

Dairy cattle in a large confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Lafayette County, Wisconsin, USA. They are almost certainly eating feed including GE ingredients, as are increasing numbers of New Zealand dairy cattle and other animals, unless they are being fed organic feeds.
Photo: Bob Nichols, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service