Monday, May 31, 2010

Genetically modified ingredients in Animal Feed

We have concerns about the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment. Since 1997 with the introduction of genetically modified soy, corn and canola by Monsanto, GMOs have cross pollinated with normal soy, corn and canola to the point where it is very difficult to keep a certified organic crop isolated in many areas where soy, corn and canola are grown.

Genetically modified plants have the genes of other organisms inserted into their DNA struction so that the other organism is capable of reproducing with the plant.In the case of canola, a brassica like mustard, radish, or broccoli, this gene is from the cauliflower mosaic virus - a toxin. Along with the genetically modified gene, a marker gene is added. In the case of canola this is a bacteria that is used for antibiotics. If the bacteria is present in the seed it is an indication that the genetic modification was successful. Unfortunately, the antibiotic bacteria also continues to reproduce -- even after it is ingested by animals or humans. Have you heard about antibiotic resistant bacteria being on the increase lately? Could it be because we are ingesting antibiotics with our food?

At Joybilee Farm we have been trying to keep our animals on a GMO-free diet.Unfortunately that is becoming increasingly more difficult. The feed mills are for the most part unknowledgable or unresponsive to our needs. Even with scientific evidence clearly demonstrating problems in animals fed a GMO diet. A recent study out of Russia demonstrated reproductive problems when hamsters were fed a diet of GMO soy -- the third generation was completely sterile. A similiar study done in rats and another in mice demonstrated sterility in the 2nd generation. Cattle in India, grazed on GMO cotton died. Cattle can normally graze on cotton without ill effects.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has called on all physicians to prescribe diets without genetically modified (GM) foods to all patients. They called for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), long-term independent studies, and labeling, stating,
"Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.
…There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation…"

Many people are not aware that when animals consume GM food, that the products from those animals that we consume also contain GMOs.  And GMOs continue to reproduce in our bodies even after we stop consuming them in our diet.  Bees that pollinate genetically modified plants produce honey that contains GMOs, as well as wax containing GMOs.  

It is believed that sticking with certified organic food will prevent consumption of GMOs. However, unless a crop is genetically tested at harvest and after milling, there are no guarantees that it is GMO free.  GMO-free certification is in its infancy.

So back to our feed problems.  We recently discovered that the Otter Co-op 18% rabbit pellets that we have been feeding our rabbits and recommending to those who purchase breeding stock from us, contains soy, canola and soya oil -- all of which most likely are from GM sources.  There is no certified organic option available.  The predominant feed stuff in the rabbit pellets is alfalfa -- a crop that is due to be release as a GMO in the US this Spring for planting in the 2010 season.  However, in looking for a GMO free alternative we are being stumped.

The whole oats and whole wheat that we feed them two days a week is GMO free, however it comes in at 12% protein.  We need a 16% protein to keep their nutrition at its peak.  Supplementing with peas might be possible but the mill warned us that it may make the feed bitter and unpalatable.  We are still researching.

Our chickens are also in need of a 16% feed source for egg production.  Our current feed "Whole Earth" from Otter Co-op may contain GMOs as it is not certified organic but simply certified vegetarian.  The mill was unresponsive to our inquiries regarding GMOs in our feed.

On a more positive note:  Our sheep and goats have been on a GMO free diet since we started feeding whole wheat and whole oats as a 50/50 mixed feed in 2004.  However, should GM alfalfa be released in the US this Spring, the GMO free status of their hay may be compromised.  GMO alfalfa can cross with regular alfalfa grown within pollination range.  So we will be diligently watching what happens in the USA.

If you want to learn more about the threat of GMO in foods see this link.

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