Southern Illinois University (SIU) research supports growing sentiment that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe for human consumption and for the environment.

Federal data indicates 34% of the country's corn crop consisted of GMOs in 2002.

In weaned pigs fed corn containing GMO DNA, nearly no “transgenic” particles were detected in any organs.

In the trial, eight pens of eight weaned pigs were fed a commercial, pre-starter pellet diet for 13 days. One pig/pen served as control.

The 56 pigs remaining were switched to a corn-soy diet for seven days, then eight to nine days of a 57.97% GMO corn diet (Table 1). SIU developed the corn variety.

For those pigs sacrificed, transgenic DNA from the GMO corn was detected in 71.43% of the stomachs and 1.79% of the small intestines. But GMO particles were not detected in the large intestine, plasma, liver or muscle samples. Transgenic DNA wasn't found in control pigs.

Stomach and ileal (area around the small intestine) contents were also analyzed using real-time polymerase chain reaction without further evidence of a “foreign” gene in digestive or bodily contents of the pigs.

SIU scientists say the data suggests the GMO corn began degradation in the stomach and was degraded beyond detection by the large intestine.

This study reinforces earlier work in which 90-lb. grower pigs were fed GMO corn and no remnants of GMOs were detected.

The SIU study is part of an overall look at GMOs as a component of swine diets to look at every aspect of a single animal from meat to digestive areas and at different ages.

Researchers: J.M. Beagle, G.A. Apgar, K.L. Jones, D. Lightfoot and M. Iqbal, Southern Illinois University; K.E. Griswold, Pennsylvania State University; J.S. Radcliffe, Purdue University; and X. Qiu, University of Florid. Contact Apgar by phone (618) 453-1765; or e-mail pigguy@siu.edu.

Table 1. Composition of Diets, Percentages, As-fed Basisa
Ingredients, % Conventional Transition Diet GMO-Positive Treatment Diet
GMO-Negative corn 60.737 -
GMO-Positive corn - 57.970
Soybean meal 29.638 38.860
Fat 0.491 -
Dicalcium
phosphate 0.953 1.520
Calcium
carbonate 0.783 -
Limestone - 0.840
Lysine 0.127 -
Methionine 0.050 0.050
Fishmeal 1.750 -
Whey 5.000 -
Vitamin mix 0.250 0.060
Trace
mineral mix 0.222 0.500
Chromic oxide
premix - 0.200
aDiets were formulated to meet or exceed NRC requirements for weanling pigs with the exception of vitamins in the gdhA+ diet, as explained in materials and methods (NRC, 1998).