Scientists are pointing the finger at genetically modified organisms (GMO) after a study found that pigs fed genetically engineered feed were more likely to suffer from severe stomach inflammation and heavier uteri. These two conditions are precursors to endometrial cancer, gynecological polyps, and abnormal thickening of the body—which all affect fertility.
This is just the latest in a series of studies that have found GMO dangers. We already know that scientists pointed out that GM fish could grow more than twice as large as regular fish, compete with regular wild fish for food and thus harm the entire fish ecosystem. Earlier studies have found that rats who are given GM feed develop large tumors and suffer from gastrointestinal problems, and even cause altered behavior.
In this study, pigs were given corn feed, which had been genetically engineered to produce its own pesticides and withstand glyphosate, one of the main ingredients in the pesticide Roundup which is often sprayed heavily on crops. The goals of GM crops are that supposedly these crops will be able to survive longer because they’re designed to withstand certain insects and pesticides, and can produce their own pesticides within the plants itself to ward off insects. But that’s not the only thing that GM food does: they’ve been linked to high rates of disease and illness. Can these GM foods cause cancer? The studies are worrisome.
This study fed 168 pigs either a mixed GM-soy and GM-corn diet or a non-GM diet for more than five months.
The pigs eating a GM diet suffered from:
- Severe stomach inflammation (32% for GM-fed pigs compared to 12% non-GM fed pigs)
- Heavy uterine thickening, a precursor for cancer (25% heavier for GM-fed pigs)
These pigs were fed the same types of food that we eat in the U.S. every day: genetically modified corn and soy are staples of most American diets—you just probably don’t realize your food is genetically modified, since food producers don’t have to label GM food.
This was the first study conducted that investigated the GMO dangers on pigs—animals that are physiologically similar to humans, and who, for the purpose of this study, were fed a mixed GM diet that most of us eat regularly. And as a result, the researchers found that the GM-fed pigs had stomach problems—erosions, ulcers, and severe bleeding. There was no difference in the rates of other illnesses, and mortality between GM-fed pigs and non-GM fed pigs.
There is strong need for more studies such as this one, to help us understand the GMO dangers, and the effects of genetically modified food on our health. We simply can’t wait another 10 years until we find out that what we ate was harming us or was able to cause cancer. Until then, we must urge our governments to implement mandatory labeling on genetically modified foods so that we can at least decide for ourselves if we want to eat these types of food.
Carman, J., et al., “A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet,” Journal of Organic Systems 2013; 8(1): 38-54.