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Consumers Union statement on new long term study of feeding GE grains to pigs

June 11, 2013

Statement of Michael Hansen, PhD, Senior Scientist, Consumers Union on New Long Term Study of Feeding GE Grains to Pigs 

The new peer-reviewed long-term pig feeding study just published raises important concerns about possible health impacts of consuming genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy. There have been very few animal feeding studies of GE food to date, and extremely few that lasted longer than 90 days. This new study looked at pigs fed GE corn and soy under commercial production conditions over a 22.7 week period. Compared to a control group that was fed conventional corn and soy, the GE-fed pigs showed significant increases in severe stomach inflammation and thickening of the uterus. The study in online here:  http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/81/8106.pdf

Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has long been concerned about the impact of GE crops and thinks these effects are a red flag and deserve further study.  We also believe this study underlines the need for labeling of GE food, since there still much to learn about their health effects. Consumers Union urges state legislatures, as well as Congress, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to require labeling of GE foods.

This new long term study, which looked at pigs over their normal commercial lifetime of five months, reinforces concerns prompted by the highly controversial Seralini study, which looked at rats fed GE food over a two year period, compared to rats fed a non-GE diet. That study also found differences in health outcomes, including higher rates of certain tumors, and liver and kidney problems, among rats fed a GE diet.

This new study of pigs, published in the Journal of Organic Systems is valuable because it used a relatively large study sample size (168 pigs including controls), and was conducted at a U.S. pig production facility in Iowa. The research was led by an Australian scientist.

The study found that the uteri of GE-fed pigs was significantly larger (weighed 25 percent more) than those of non-GE-fed pigs. In addition, the rate of severe stomach inflammation was more than 2.5-fold higher, on average, for GE-fed pigs compared to non-GE-fed pigs (32 percent vs. 12 percent, respectively).  Indeed, for male pigs, the rate of severe stomach inflammation was four times higher for GE-fed males to non-GE fed males, and for females, the rate was more than 2-fold higher.

As the authors conclude: “The results indicate that it would be prudent for GM crops that are destined for human food and animal feed, including stacked GM crops, to undergo long-term animal feeding studies preferably before commercial planting, particularly for toxicological and reproductive effects.”

Contact: Naomi Starkman, 917.539.3924, nstarkman@gmail.com