The controversy over Genetically Modified Organisms -- AKA GMOs -- rages on.
A new study, recently released by a joint collaboration of Australian scientists and U.S. researchers, indicated that pigs fed a GMO diet had much higher rates of severe stomach inflammation.
While many GMO proponents have dismissed the study as junk science, GMO activists and many in the medical community are using the study as further evidence of the unknown health effects of consuming GMO products.
Published earlier this month by the peer-reviewed Journal of Organic Systems, the study was conducted by Australian researchers who worked with veterinarians and an Iowa farmer to study the U.S. pigs. The research was led by Judy Carman, an epidemiologist, biochemist, and director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Adelaide, Australia.
Administered over 22 weeks, the study examined 168 newly weaned pigs in a U.S. commercial pig farm.
Half of the pigs studied consumed a diet of genetically modified corn and soy, while the other half were fed a diet of a non-GMO equivalent. The corn and soy were obtained from regular commercial feed suppliers.
Both groups were raised in identical housing and feeding situations before being slaughtered about five months later. The veterinarians who performed necropsies (the animal version of autopsies) of the bodies were unaware of whether the pigs came from the control or the GMO group.
According to the researchers, there were no differences in feed intake, weight gain, mortality, and routine blood biochemistry measurements between the control group and the pigs fed the GMOs.
They did find, however, that pigs fed the GM diet had a 32 percent increase in severe stomach inflammation compared to 12 percent of the control group. In fact, the situation was even worse in GM-fed males by a factor of 4.0 -- in females, the factor was increased by 2.2. The study also found that the uteri of pigs fed GMOs were 25 percent heavier than that of the control group.
Researchers concluded that more long-term animal feeding studies are needed.
While some scientists have dismissed the study, mandatory-labeling activists and many in the scientific community are not surprised by the findings.
Dr. Robert Fishman, a pharmacist, biochemist, and owner of the Post Haste Pharmacy in Hollywood, has been warning patients about the potential health effects of GMOs for a while now.
"There are two enemies to man in food," says Fishman. "Sugar is the worst. Then wheat -- we changed the gene structure of wheat a long time ago. It's the biggest crop in America, and we've been seeing negative effects for quite some time now. Celiacs, a gluten allergy, is a huge problem in America. Krohn's disease is another huge digestive issue."
According to Fishman, digestive issues from consumption of GMOs doesn't appear only in human populations; it's affecting the whole food chain.
"These GMOs alter the genes of animals that consume them," he says. "Cows and pigs eat the GM corn, and it alters their genes. Those genes don't match our genes. If the genes don't match our gene receptors, we are not getting what we need from them."
In the U.S., the majority of animal feed contains GMOs. If these products do indeed negatively affect the health of the animals we eat, we are essentially eating sick animals on a daily basis. Sounds healthy, huh?
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.