First of all, we love our family and our animals, and we’ve all heard “you are what you eat”. We are concerned with the high levels of pesticide and herbicide residue in conventional animal feed. We feel that this is a potential for the causes of disease in our society. For this reason, we have chosen to feed Certified Non-GMO feeds and are moving towards a soy-free chicken ration. Our belief is backed up by reports of scientists, consumer and environmental groups, that are concerned with health and environmental risks with foods containing GMOs. As a result of these findings, many more people like us, in our country are now demanding “non-GMO” foods. The most common GMO plants in the American diet are corn, soy and sugar beets which just so happen to be the main ingredients in most animal feed rations. Like people, animals are what they eat. If they are eating unhealthy, potentially hazardous feed, that has been dosed in chemicals, they will have poorer health and lead to a less nutritious food product.
what is non-gmo?
Let’s start with the easy one. Non-GMO means not genetically, or naturally grown without scientific engineering. Heirloom plants and most traditional hybrid vegetables are non-GMO. Some plant varieties, strains, and variations are achieved by cross-pollination and breeding for specific traits. This has been done by humans for thousands of years and how we have created many of the plant varieties we consume and grow year after year. Some examples would be corn, potatoes, and tomatoes. Corn was originally a wild grass called teosinte. “Teosinte looked very different from our corn today. The kernels were small and were not placed close together like kernels on the husked ear of modern corn.” But thousands of years of specific breeding and cultivation have created the crop we know today.
what are gmo’s?
This one is a lot more complicated. There are a few terms used in the defining living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated, in a laboratory, using genetic modification/engineering techniques. The terms you will find is a GMO - Genetically Modified Organism, GE - Genetically Engineered and GM - Genetically Modified. In a genetic modification (or engineering) of food plants, scientists remove one or more genes from the DNA of another organism. This could be a bacteria, virus, animal, or other plant and add them into the DNA of the plant they want to alter. By adding the new genes, genetic engineers hope the plant will express the traits associated with the non-native gene that was added. “For example, genetic engineers have transferred genes from a bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt into the DNA of corn. Bt genes express a protein that kills insects, and transferring the genes allows the corn to produce its own pesticide." This relatively new science sometimes creates unstable combinations in the plant and often needs to be tested many times to achieve the desired effect, Because these combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods there is no way to know the long term effects on human health through consumption. It is also important to note that virtually all commercial GM crops are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide which causes some concern in my opinion.
Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center conducted a survey in 2014 that tested a number of products for GMO residue and researched how GMO, GE, and GM products are showing up in our food supply. Listed below are some interesting and alarming facts from their report.
“The overwhelming majority of corn and soy planted in the United States is genetically engineered (GE). Corn and soy are important building blocks in a wide variety of processed foods in the United States.”
“Consumers are concerned about GE ingredients in their food and believe that foods should be labeled. In fact, a recent national telephone survey conducted by Consumer Reports found that 72 percent of consumers say it is important to avoid GMOs when they shop, 40 percent of consumers are looking for non-GMO claims on food, and 92 percent of consumers think GE foods should be labeled. In addition, more than 60 percent of consumers think “natural” means GMOs were not used”
“The vast majority of commercialized GE crops have been engineered to be either herbicide tolerant (to glufosinate and/or glyphosate herbicides, i.e. RoundUp), or to manufacture their own pesticide (e.g. Bt toxin) (5)…. the herbicide-tolerant (HT) trait is in over 80% of all the engineered crop acreage in the US (5c) and the overwhelming majority of that acreage is in glyphosate tolerant crops (6). Two crops, corn, and soybean, make up the bulk of the acres planted to GE crops for food (around 159 million acres) (8). In 2013, 93% of soybeans were GE, most of them glyphosate tolerant (6) and 90% of corn was GE with 85% containing HT trait (7).”
“An animal-feeding study found that Bt corn might affect gut and peripheral immune cell responses (23). A meta-analysis of animal feeding studies involving GE crops suggests the crops have effects on the liver and kidneys and that longer-term studies are needed”.