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June 26th, 2013

Is GE Food Making Pigs Sick?

By Genna Reed

An article published in the most recent issue of Journal of Organic Systems sheds light on the effects of GE food on animals and potentially humans. The authors of this study—scientists and experts from Australia and the Midwestern United States—performed a long-term study on pigs raised in a real-life, industrial hog production facility.

This study is important because it examined pigs during their entire lifespan of 22.7 weeks and also had a large sample size of 168 pigs, 84 in the GE-fed group (fed stacked Roundup Ready and insect-resistant Bt corn and Roundup Ready soy) and 84 in the non-GE-fed group. The significant and troubling findings of this study include:

  • The uteri of GE-fed pigs were 25 percent heavier than those of non-GE-fed pigs.
  • Pigs fed GE feed had a higher rate of severe stomach inflammation: 32 percent of GE-fed pigs versus 12 percent of non-GE-fed pigs exhibited this problem. The trend was more profound for males. Serious stomach inflammation was found in 4 times as many GE-fed males than non-GE-fed males and in 2 times as many GE-fed females than non-GE-fed females.

What does heavier uteri tell us about these pigs? The authors suggest that, “such a biologically significant difference…may reflect endometrial hyperplasia or carcinoma, endometritis, endometriosis, adenomyosis, inflammation, a thickening of the myometrium, or the presence of polyps.” All of these afflictions are serious concerns and should warrant future research.

The researchers also stress that, “humans have a similar gastrointestinal tract to pigs, and these [GE] crops are widely consumed by people, particularly in the USA, so it would be prudent to determine if the findings of this study are applicable to humans.” This study adds to the mounting evidence on the potential harmful effects of GE food consumption. Last year, a long-term GE feeding study on rats pointed to several health impacts including the development of tumors, liver and kidney damage, abnormal hormone glands and earlier mortality. More independent research is necessary to replicate these results and look into the exact chemical causes of some these health issues in pigs so that we can learn more about the potential parallel effects in humans.

To read more about the health effects of GE crops, go to http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/factsheet/genetically-engineered-food-human-health-risks-2/

3 Comments on Is GE Food Making Pigs Sick?

  1. Nancy Hope says:

    Interesting article. But the number of pigs in the study is not a large number. For a statistically significant result there would have to be a lot more pigs studied and compared.

    I am not happy about gm crops and the herbicides involved, not at all.

    Good science requires far large numbers to be valid.

    This result may be a warning or it may be a statistical accident.

  2. Anastasia says:

    This article doesn’t address the many concern that independent (non-industry funded) scientists from various fields have with the Carman paper. I describe my concerns from a crop science perspective here: http://www.biofortified.org/2013/06/pig-feeding-study-gmo/
    Scientists with expertise in animal physiology, statistics, and other fields have also had concerns with the methods, results, and conclusions here. Surely Food and Water Watch would want their supporters to have this science-based information in addition to the original paper.

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