While there’s no way to know absolutely if your dog’s corn or soy-included kibble is made using genetically modified ingredients, chances are that it is. In fact, in the United States, 88% of the corn used in pet foods and animal feed and 93% of soybean crops are genetically engineered, according to a 2011 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications report.
So, what does genetically modified mean?
Corn is the #1 crop grown in the U.S. and almost all of it is genetically modified. GMO’s, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are plant or meat products that have had their DNA altered in a laboratory. Genetically modified corn contains a pesticide that cannot be washed off. Additionally, GM corn grown in the U.S. is “Roundup Ready,” meaning it can withstand spraying of Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide and continue to live and grow, while the weeds around it die. (For now. Research is showing that Roundup-resistant weeds are now starting to grow, requiring farmers to increase the amount of pesticide used to kill them.)
As for soy, while it may not be clearly listed on your dog food label, soy is a staple in food production under various names including hydrogenated oils, lecithin, emulsifiers, tocopherol (a vitamin E supplement) and proteins. 93% of US-grown soy is genetically modified.
What are the long-term effects of consuming GMO’s?
Unfortunately, the long-term effects of human and companion animal consumption of GMOs remains to be seen. However, research has linked GMO’s to allergies, organ toxicity, and other serious health issues.
According CA Right to Know, an organization dedicated to establishing labeling laws on GMO foods:
GMOs have not been proven safe, and long-term health studies have not been conducted. A growing body of peer-reviewed studies has linked these foods to allergies, organ toxicity and other health problems. These studies must be followed up. However, unlike the strict safety evaluations required for the approval of new drugs, the US Food and Drug Administration does not require safety studies for genetically engineered foods. The United Nations/World Health Organization food standards group and the American Medical Association have called for mandatory safety testing of genetically engineered foods — a standard the U.S. fails to meet.
In a 2009 study on the effects of GM corn on rats, significant kidney and liver disease was found in rats after only a 90-day feeding trial. A 2012 study revealed that during the lifespan of lab rats tested, not only did rats fed a diet that included GM corn die earlier than those fed non-GM corn, but they also developed mammary tumors and severe kidney and liver damage.
What is the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s position on the safety of GMO’s?
Unlike the FDA’s tough position on drug approval, wherein extensive research, drug trials, and safety must be proven before allowed on the market, their position on GMO’s is quite the opposite.
A USA Today article revealed:
Using the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology finalized in 1986, the Food and Drug Administration has ruled that genetically engineered foods are substantially equivalent to conventionally produced foods. In 1992, the FDA said genetically engineered crops are generally recognized as safe. FDA, in effect, said that those foods are no different from other foods and shouldn’t be held to any different standards.
Further, the article explained that the FDA requires zero testing of GMO foods for safety before they are allowed in the marketplace. In other words, these genetically modified foods are being considered safe until proven otherwise through actual long-term human consumption, on a population that is legally not required to be informed whether what they’re eating is GM or not.
And, this is their take on food for human consumption – as we know, the FDA position on pet food safety is far more lax.
How can I be sure my pet’s food is safe?
As dog owners, we must arm ourselves with as much information as we can. We can’t rely on fancy packaging and clever catchphrases like, “complete nutrition” or “wholesome ingredients” which mean absolutely nothing in the world of unregulated dog food manufacturing. Read labels, look for real meat as the number one ingredient, avoid foods with corn as a main ingredient (or at all!), foods with by-products, unidentified meat-meals, and loads of nutrient-empty fillers. To avoid GMO’s altogether, buy a pet food with the USDA Organic certification.
Your dog’s health and vitality depend on the choices you make.
Are you feeding your dog a good, wholesome, and nutritious dog food that doesn’t contain any genetically modified corn or soy? Leave a comment below that helps other readers also make the right choices for their pets!