Study: No differences between genetically engineered and non-GE feed on animals

Researchers at the University of California-Davis say the performance and health of production animals that consumed genetically engineered (GE) feed is comparable to those consuming non-GE feed, and their study also found no difference in the nutritional makeup of the meat, milk or other food products from the two groups of animals.

The study, called the "Prevalence and Impacts of Genetically Engineered Feedstuffs on Livestock Populations," examined nearly 30 years of livestock-feeding studies that represent more than 100 billion animals. Genetically engineered feed was introduced 18 years ago. Their research appears online through the American Society of Animal Science and will be published in the October issue of the Journal of Animal Science.

"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," Alison Van Eenennaam, the UC Davis researcher who led the study, said in a statement. "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."

Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California-Davis

The researchers also said there is a pressing need to "harmonize" international regulations for genetically engineered feeds now that second generation GE crops that have been optimized for livestock are on the horizon.

"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 the regulatory approvals are passed in the countries that are major exporters of animal feed," Van Eenennaam said.

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