Posts Tagged: GMO
The review study also found that scientific studies have detected no differences in the nutritional makeup of the meat, milk or other food products derived from animals that ate genetically engineered feed.
The review, led by Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, examined nearly 30 years of livestock-feeding studies that represent more than 100 billion animals.
Titled “Prevalence and Impacts of Genetically Engineered Feedstuffs on Livestock Populations,” the review article is now available online in open-access form through the American Society of Animal Science. It will appear in print and open-access in the October issue of the Journal of Animal Science.
Genetically engineered crops were first introduced in 1996. Today, 19 genetically engineered plant species are approved for use in the United States, including the major crops used extensively in animal feed: alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, soybean and sugar beet.
Food-producing animals such as cows, pigs, goats, chickens and other poultry species now consume 70 to 90 percent of all genetically engineered crops, according to the new UC Davis review. In the United States, alone, 9 billion food-producing animals are produced annually, with 95 percent of them consuming feed that contains genetically engineered ingredients.
“Studies have continually shown that the milk, meat and eggs derived from animals that have consumed GE feed are indistinguishable from the products derived from animals fed a non-GE diet,” Van Eenennaam said. “Therefore, proposed labeling of animal products from livestock and poultry that have eaten GE feed would require supply-chain segregation and traceability, as the products themselves would not differ in any way that could be detected.”
Now that a second generation of genetically engineered crops that have been optimized for livestock feed is on the horizon, there is a pressing need to internationally harmonize the regulatory framework for these products, she said.
“To avoid international trade disruptions, it is critical that the regulatory approval process for genetically engineered products be established in countries importing these feeds at the same time that regulatory approvals are passed in the countries that are major exporters of animal feed,” Van Eenennaam said.
Collaborating on the study was co-author Amy E. Young in the UC Davis Department of Animal Science.
The review study was supported by funds from the W.K. Kellogg endowment and the California Agricultural Experiment Station of UC Davis.
UC Davis is growing California
At UC Davis, we and our partners are nourishing our state with food, economic activity and better health, playing a key part in the state's role as the top national agricultural producer for more than 50 years. UC Davis is participating in UC's Global Food Initiative launched by UC President Janet Napolitano, harnessing the collective power of UC to help feed the world and steer it on the path to sustainability.
About UC Davis
UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.
- Alison Van Eenennaam, Department of Animal Science, (530) 902-0875, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843, email@example.com
I had been planning to write a blog about crop biotechnology/GMOs for quite some time. It was going to be witty, yet sensible; logical, but not academic. I was envisioning myself as a voice of reason. As someone who had spent the last 14 years thinking critically about crops and crop production. I studied agriculture. I made it my vocation. I tried to learn from scientists and farmers, alike. Sometimes I impressed them (both groups) and sometimes I pissed them off (again, both groups). Regardless of the situation, I always tried to ensure that my thoughts and opinions were well-reasoned.
And then I heard it. The word. The word that was being used to describe scientists and science reporters that supported biotechnology. Shill. /SHil/ noun An accomplice of a hawker, gambler, or swindler who acts as an enthusiastic customer to entice or encourage others. In many arenas (not all, but many), this was the only explanation for someone to back the development and adoption of GMOs; they (biotech supporters) were (obviously) in a covert and deceitful alliance with 'Big Ag'. Assuming that one's ability to evaluate data and draw thoughtful and independent conclusions about GMOs is naturally suspect (and disregarded), all that you have left is shill. Either that or you are just not smart enough to be complicit (i.e. you are being fooled).
On the flip-side, a Facebook friend of mine (a molecular biologist and organic farmer who takes a conservative stance on GMOs) feels that the pro-biotech crowd can come off as elitist and arrogant when they refer to someone, whose sentiments he might sometimes share, as a 'loon'. And, in the interest of total disclosure, I have also used the 'L-word' on Facebook to describe a few anti-GMO advocates with extreme (in my opinion) views. And no, the irony is not lost on me; it is my wake-up call to think about my friends' emotions about food, in addition to the science. I don't think that I will be an effective communicator if I make people feel embarrassed or angry.
But then this.
The Twitterverse has been in an uproar, recently, over the comments of Mike Adams, a.k.a. The Health Ranger. For those of you not in constant touch with the internet, Mike Adams recently wrote on the Natural News webpage that journalists and scientists who support biotechnology are no better than Nazi accomplices and are helping to lead the world into an 'Agricultural Holocaust'. (See Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) Furthermore, the Health Ranger called upon people to develop a website to record the names of all persons deemed to be 'Monsanto propaganda collaborators', presumably so that they can be brought to justice someday. A website (which was attributed to Mike Adams and which he disavows) listing the names of prominent biotechnology supporters, was even launched (and then taken down, although there is an archive).
So, you can be called something much worse than a 'shill', a 'loon', an 'abettor', a 'crank', an 'apologist', or a 'quack'. And I wonder if the debate has been taken to a ridiculous new level. And I wonder if I should just wait before I try to write a full-on blog about biotechnology.
Dubcovsky commented in The Scientist article about his work in using biotechnology to instill resistance to a devastating plant disease, stripe rust, in wheat.
“Wheat is a very important cereal,” says Ravi Singh of Irrigated Bread Wheat Improvement and Rust Research in Mexico. “Twenty percent of [humans'] calories and about the same [percent of] protein are coming from wheat.”
Genetic engineering is a way to breed long-lasting stem rust–resistant wheat varieties and boost wheat yields around the world. But genetically modified foods are being kept off the market by public opposition and regulatory expenses.
The Scientist article, written by Kerry Grens, said a few groups are forging ahead, including Dubcovsky and other researchers who are cloning stripe rust-resistance genes from wheat and other taxa and identify their functions. For more on Dubcovsky's work, see UC researchers improve wheat nutrition and yield.
The article reviewed the case of Enviropig, which was modified to produce lower levels of phosphorus in its manure, an environmental benefit because phosphorus can leach into groundwater beneath pig farms. The transgene also eliminates the cost of adding phosphorus to the animals' feed. Anti-GMO activists voiced loud opposition.
"They really targeted it and made it a bad thing," said Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis.
James Murray, professor in the UCD Animal Science Department, has used genetic modification to develop goats whose milk contains an antibacterial protein found in human breast milk that could help treat childhood diarrhea.
“Who would have thought when we started [manipulating animal genomes] in the early 1980s that at this point we would have no animals approved?" Murry said. “It's been over 30 years. I made my first transgenic sheep in 1985. We were all making [GM] mice before that, with an eye toward agriculture.”
Akst used the case of the AquAdvantage salmon as an object lesson about resistance to GMO animals. AquAdvantage salmon contain a gene from an eel-like ocean pout. It grows twice as fast on 25 percent less food compared to wild salmon. Despite safeguards its makers have in place to keep the GM fish away from their wild cousins - farming them in inland tanks, raising only sterile female fish - the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been holding off on approval for years.
“Fifteen or 20 years in, $70 million down the drain, and no decision,” Murray said. “Who wants to invest in the next transgenic animal product?”
The story describes a lone councilman's effort to get science-based information in face of vocal opposition to GMOs among advocacy groups. The lack of input from farmers and scientists on policy issues that affect food and farming has rankled many agircultural scientists, including Pamela Ronald, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis. She compared some advocacy groups' resolute objections to GMOs to people who don't believe the world climate is changing despite the scientific proof.
“Just as many on the political right discount the broad scientific consensus that human activities contribute to global warming, many progressive advocacy groups disregard, reject or ignore the decades of scientific studies demonstrating the safety and wide-reaching benefits” of genetically engineered crops, Ronald said.
Hawaii has a unique status in the GMO debate. It's the only American state where farmers grow genetically modified fruit. After an outbreak of papaya ringspot virus in the mid-1990s, scientists used biotechnology to insert a gene from the virus itself into the papaya that gave it immunity and saved the crop.
The article outlines research showing that many of the claims made by GMO opponents do not stand up to scrutiny. Experts conceded that the research doesn't prove genetically engineered food could never cause harm, but the risks of such crops could be reliably tested, and they had so far proved safe.
“With scientists, we never say anything is 100 percent certain one way or another,” USDA-ARS research molecular biologist Jon Suzuki said. “We weigh conclusions on accumulated knowledge or evidence — but often this is not satisfactory for some.”
The GMO ban was approved by Hawaii's County Council by a 6 to 3 vote and on Dec. 5 signed by the Big Island's mayor.