Definition: The idea that when livestock consumes genetically modified feed, that genetically modified DNA will be passed to their meat, dairy, eggs, etc.
This idea first started appearing when news broke out of a study that suggested that GM feed was harming livestock. It suggested that pigs that were raised on GM feed experienced higher rates of intestinal problems.
The impact of this idea has caused much protest in society. Many internet documentaries began appearing such as this one, which seem to show the perspective of all the people who are anti-GMO including farmers and scientists.
The audience most affected by this are farmers. If scientific evidence actually shows that GM feed harms their livestock, then their farms would be at economic risk from loss of livestock.
It’s estimated that over 70 percent of harvested GMO crops are fed to food producing animals. However, GMOs have never been detected in food that came from animals that were fed GM feed.
Almost all the food that humans and animals eat contains DNA and proteins. The DNA and proteins found in food are processed by the digestive system. During digestion, any DNA from your food is broken down into the basic components that make up all DNA. Similarly, proteins are broken down into one or a few of the amino acids that exist in nature. Studies were done to measure the potential for DNA to be transferred into animal tissue. No intact GMO DNA has been detected in animal tissue.
Alison Van Eenennaam, Ph.D., extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology at the University of California, Davis, conducted a 29 year study that involved trillions of meals of GM feed. She states that, “Genetically engineered crops are digested by animals in the same way as conventional crops. Evidence to date strongly suggests that feeding livestock with genetically engineered crops is equivalent to feeding unmodified feed sources in terms of nutrient composition, digestibility and feeding value.” She also explains that “Genetically engineered DNA, or the novel proteins encoded therein, have never been detected in the milk, meat or eggs derived from animals fed genetically engineered feedstuffs. Several studies have documented that small fragments of plant-derived, but not genetically engineered, DNA can pass into the tissues of animals that consume the plants.”