GM Free Cymru

New research confirms serious health damage linked to GMO feed

Press Release from GM-Free Cymru 12 June 2013

A new international study, published today by US and Australian researchers (1), provides unequivocal evidence of serious health damage arising from the consumption of GMO feed.

The research paper, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Organic Systems, reports on a five-month feeding study in which 168 newly weaned pigs in a commercial piggery were fed either on a typical diet incorporating GMO soy and corn (2), or else (in the control group) an equivalent non-GMO diet. The pigs were reared under identical housing and feeding conditions. They were slaughtered 5 months later, at their usual slaughter age, and were then subjected to autopsies by qualified veterinarians who worked "blind" -- ie they were not informed which pigs were fed on the GMO diet and which were from the control group.

The research results were striking, showing that the weight of the uterus in GMO-fed pigs was on average 25% higher than in the control-group pigs. The finding was biologically and statistically significant, demonstrating reproductive interference, nutritional deficiencies and possible suppression of the immune system (3). Also, the level of severe inflammation in stomachs was markedly higher in pigs fed on the GMO diet. These animals were 2.6 times more likely to suffer severe stomach inflammation than control pigs. The organ damage was most marked in male pigs. Finally, when the blood of both groups of pigs was analysed, the animals fed on the GMO diet showed a significant decrease in liver health.

The autopsy findings were not particularly surprising to veterinarians who have for some years seen reproductive and digestive problems in pigs fed on a diet containing GMO soy and corn. They have also been concerned about a reduced ability to conceive and higher rates of miscarriage in piggeries where sows have been fed on a GMO diet, and a reduction in the number of piglets born where boars have been used for conception. Intestinal problems are also greater in pigs fed on GMOs, including inflammation of the stomach and small intestine, stomach ulcers, a thinning of intestinal walls and an increase in haemorrhagic bowel disease.

The day-to-day observations of pig farmers are now backed up by this new study, linking typical symptoms with recorded and statistically significant physiological damage in pigs at the age of slaughter. It is to be expected that GMO-fed sows kept for breeding purposes (with an age of maybe 8 months at first farrowing) will also suffer from more extreme internal organ damage and poor health as they grow older.

This study, conducted in a normal pig farming context, also confirms the findings of Prof Gilles-Eric Seralini and his colleagues which caused such a storm of controversy last year. In a much-discussed paper (4) arising from a long-term laboratory-based feeding study using rats, the Seralini team found severe toxic effects (including tumours) in those animals fed on a diet incorporating either GM corn or residues of Roundup herbicide. There were many statistically significant differences between the test and control groups of animals, leading to the inexorable conclusion that both NK603 maize and Roundup are deleterious to mammal health.

Commenting for GM-Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said: "This is a careful study run according to strict protocols. With the publication of these results from a real farming situation in the USA, we have yet more evidence that GMOs are harmful to health in a number of different ways. The GM industry, which has moved heaven and earth to prevent publication of this paper over a period of four years (5), must now accept that it is knowingly promoting the growing and marketing of GMOs and associated products (like Roundup) that threaten the health of both domestic animals and human beings. The results published last year by Prof Seralini and his colleagues were NOT aberrations or a product of fraudulent or incompetent science; the findings are demonstrably reliable, and frightening in their implications -- as are these new findings, published today. We must rid the food supply chain of GMOs of all types if public health is to be protected. We have been telling both governments and regulators for years that GMOs are dangerous -- the evidence is there, in scores of peer-reviewed journal papers. But they have existed in a state of denial, apparently in thrall to the might of Monsanto, Syngenta and other biotechnology multinationals. Enough is enough. We must have an immediate moratorium on all GMO products in Europe, and a systematic removal of all GMO materials from the animal feed and human food chains. There must be no more consents in Europe for any GMO varieties currently in the pipeline. It also goes without saying that the GMO Panel of EFSA, which has operated a "don't look, don't see" policy with respect to GMOs and public health for more than a decade, must be immediately wound up."

Farmer Gill Rowlands, who is also a member of the GM-Free Cymru Coordinating Group, said: "My immediate response to this new research is that this is now a very big animal welfare issue. There have been indications in the past that farm animals are being made to suffer through the consumption of GM feed. This cannot now be disputed. We therefore call for the removal of all GMOs from animal feed supplies, even if that takes time. More immediately, we call on all of the UK supermarkets to require their suppliers of animal products -- including meat, milk and eggs -- to abandon GMO feed and give solid guarantees that all the feed used in the future is from certified GM-free sources. No good farmers want to knowingly cause their animals to suffer."


Contact: Dr Brian John, tel 01239-820470


1. "A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM corn maize diet" (2013) by Dr Judy Carman, Howard Vlieger, Dr Larry Ver Steeg, Veryln Sneller, Dr Garth Robinson, Dr Kate Clinch-Jones, Dr Julie Haynes and Dr John Edwards. Journal of Organic Systems, Vol 8. No 1 (2013), pp 38-54

2. The GMO feed mix was a typical one used by pig farmers, involving both "triple stack" RR corn and conventional RR corn, and mechanically processed meal made from RR soybeans. Soybean processed chemically with hexane was not used, because that might have introduced other conflicting deleterious effects. The GM events represented in the feed were NK603, MON863 and MON810.

3. Enlargement of the uterus is also found where sows have been infected with mycotoxins, and in cases where there are nutritional problems.

4. Séralini, G-E., E. Clair, R. Mesnage, S. Gress, N. Defarge, M. Malatesta, D. Hennequin, J. Spiroux de Vendômois. 2012. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food Chem. Toxicol. 19 September 2012

5. The observations underpinning this study were made in 2008, since when the amount of GM material used in animal feed has increased. The results therefore underestimate the scale of health damage that might be experienced in piggeries today. Long delays in publication are common for papers which find "inconvenient" effects associated with GMOs, because of corporate influence in scientific journal publishing. Vilification of the scientists involved in independent GMO studies is also commonplace.