Is it safe for livestock to eat feed grown from GM crops?

Farmers and ranchers that provide our meat, milk and eggs depend on genetically enhanced crops as critical components in their animals' feed. Livestock in the U.S. have been fed GM crops since they were first introduced in 1996.

A recent scientific review found that food –producing animals consuming genetically modified feed has been comparable to that of animals consuming non-GM feed. The review by the University of California, Davis examined nearly 30 years of livestock feeding studies that represent more than 100 billion animals.

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 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.

More than 100 digestion and feeding studies examining the effects of feeding GM crops to various food-producing animals have been reported to the Federation of Animal Science Societies and results revealed no significant differences in the nutritional value of feedstuffs compared with their conventional counterparts. Results for long-term studies have not indicated any impact on animal health or the quality of any animal products as a consequence of long-term consumption of GM feed.

  • Nutrients in meat, milk and eggs from livestock fed GM feeds are the same as those from livestock fed conventional feeds. Because most components of feeds are broken into smaller components during digestion by the animal, plant proteins have not been detected in milk, meat or eggs.
  • More than 40 crops have gone through the FDA consultation process and been developed for market, ensuring that any human food or animal feed derived from new plant varieties are safe to eat.
  • The FDA has approved GM foods but so have Food Canada, the European Food Safety Authority, the Food Standards agencies for Australia and New Zealand, and various agencies in Japan and Korea, among others. This group comprises the majority of food safety agencies among nearly every developed nation.
  • Animals fed Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn have no side effects. This corn is made to specifically resist destructive insects such as the European corn borer. The protein has no effect on other animals or humans.
  • Livestock and poultry demand for feeds is expected to grow in the next 50 years, as food requirements increase parallel with the doubling of the world's population. Sufficient, nutritious and environment-friendly feed crops must be available to indirectly provide food for an increasing population.

USFRA Point of View

USFRA supports farmers’ choices to plant and grow conventional crops, GM crops, organic crops or a combination. Similarly, USFRA supports consumers’ choices to purchase foods they prefer. Many of our farmers plant GM seeds for reasons such as protecting their crops from adverse weather. Some of our... Read more