On June 11, the Chicago Tribune contained an article titled “Pigs fed GM grain suffer health problems, study says”.  Since then, variations of the story have found their way to other news sites, including ABC and FOX News.  Unfortunately, there are several aspects to the study, “A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet” that may cause its conclusions, and the article, to be invalid. The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) believes it is important to set the record straight, so that soybean farmers can respond to consumer’s questions easily and clearly. 

This study, like many others that have preceded it, found no significant differences in health, growth or feed efficiency of the animals tested.  “The entire swine breeding herd on the North American Continent has been consuming GM grains for more than 15 years, and over 150 studies have been conducted to evaluate the safety of animals fed those crops,”   says John Hagenbuch, farmer and ISA director from Utica, Ill. He continued, “However, the conclusions drawn regarding severe stomach inflammation and increase in uterine weight in this six-month study do not match the results of other studies, or even what we have seen on our own farms.” While there was inflammation present in the stomachs of all the pigs, that is something that is common among pigs that consume high levels of feed or finely ground feed.  Unfortunately, no documentation indicating particle size of the diets was measured – so the cause of the inflammation remains unclear.

Scientists are also swiftly refuting the study based on inferior methodology.  Another article published on June 12 compiled the reactions of several researchers under the headline, “Scientists Shred Study that says Genetically Modified Foods Makes Pigs Sick”.  Other experts also question the motives of the head researcher, Judy Carman. Her website gmojudycarman.org is supported by the authors of the now-infamous Seralini rat study publicized in September 2012. In that study, researchers claimed that GM corn fed to lab rats caused cancer.  That study was widely dismissed by the scientific community, the French government and later, the European Food Safety Authority.

Hagenbuch pointed out that a new study released at last month’s BIO Conference shares proof of multiple benefits from planting GM crops: “Farmers can be even better caretakers of the land with GM crops because we are able to use less fuel, fewer pesticides and utilize conservation tillage practices.”  The study, GM crops: global socio-economic and environmental impacts 1996-2011, finds a global economic benefit of nearly $100 billion dollars, as well as the positive environmental impact.

Illinois soybean farmers can continue to feel confident about the GM crops they grow and reassure consumers that animals fed with GM crops have not suffered ill effects. Numerous agencies, including  The World Health Organization confirm the safety of GM foods: “GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments …  no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) represents more than 45,000 soybean farmers in Illinois through the state soybean checkoff and membership efforts. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, promotion, issues management and analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org.

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For more information, contact:
Amy Roady
roadya@ilsoy.org
309-808-3610
618-535-7937

Laura Temple
ltemple@morganmyers.com
847-436-3525