Thursday, October 29, 2015 by Julie Wilson
Baby goats born to mothers fed genetically modified (GM) soybeans suffer from stunted growth and nutrient absorption deficiencies, according to a new study conducted in Italy and published in the journal Small Ruminant Research.
Genetically engineered soybeans are designed to withstand large doses of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide. The World Health Organization recently declared that its primary ingredient, glyphosate, is “probably carcinogenic.”
Researchers attributed the slow growth of goat kids to the milk they received from their GMO-fed mothers, which they found was “significantly less nutritious and contained less of the IgG antibodies important for early growth.”
They also observed a difference in the colostrum (a form of milk produced by mammals in late pregnancy) of goat mothers fed GM soy. Their milk contained less fat and less protein than milk produced by goats fed non-GM soy.
Dr. Judy Carman, Director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, Australia, was not involved in the study but commented on the researcher’s findings:
The differences in the composition of the colostrum between the mothers fed the GE [genetically engineered] soy and the non-GE soy were particularly striking. The colostrum from the GE-fed mothers contained only 2/3 of the fat, 1/3 of the protein and close to half of the IgG of the mothers fed the non-GM soy.
Scientists reached their conclusions after dividing pregnant female Cilentana goats into four groups, 60 days before kidding.
“Two of the groups were fed goat food containing GE Roundup Ready soybeans (at two different concentrations). The other two groups were fed conventional (non-GE) soybeans, also at two different concentrations,” reports Independent Science News.
“After the mothers gave birth all offspring were fed only with their mother’s milk for sixty days. The growth of these kids was measured twice. After both thirty days and sixty days the kids of GE-fed mothers were approximately 20% lower in weight and shorter in stature. Both these differences were statistically significant.”
Scientists noticed other side effects too. The difference in protein and fat levels in milk produced by goats fed GM soy were significant, with 6 percent protein in both GM soy fed groups, compared to 18 percent in both non-GM soy-fed groups. But this difference was only apparent for the first few weeks after birth and gradually disappeared, researchers say.
Mother goats fed GM-soy produced milk that contained lower amounts of IgG antibodies, which are very important for growth and developing a healthy immune system.
The third difference scientists noted was that they detected transgenic DNA in most (10 out of 16) goats fed GE-soy. Comparably, no transgenic DNA was found in the milk of goats fed non-GE soybeans.
Transgenic DNA is genetic material that’s somehow been transferred from one organism (it can happen naturally or unnaturally) to another, and can be passed on through its offspring.
Researchers noted that this wasn’t the first time they’ve detected transgenic DNA in the “milk of ruminants.”
Another interesting finding that scientists observed was that all of the baby goats were the same size at birth regardless of whether or not their moms ate GM soy or non-GM soy, indicating that the offspring’s stunted growth was result a of a milk deficiency.
“The authors noted that low IgG antibody levels in colostrum are correlated in other ruminants with slower growth and also that IgG antibodies are known to have a role in nutrient absorption because they promote gut development in newborns.
“The researchers did not discuss whether the transgene DNA fragments found in the milk played a role in altering kid development.
“The same researchers in 2010 showed altered activity of the lactic dehydrogenase enzyme in kids fed milk from mothers that ate GE Roundup Ready soybeans. In that previous study however, no additional effects on goat offspring were detected (Tudisco et al., 2010).”