By Dr. Becker
For those of you still feeding your dog or cat a commercial pet food with corn-based ingredients – which includes most inexpensive pet foods on the market today – here's a big heads-up and another reason to reconsider the diet you're offering your four-legged companion.
Chances are the corn products in your pet's food are genetically modified (GM). This means the seeds have been chemically altered to produce plants that can withstand repeated spraying with Monsanto's Roundup weed killer.
Estimates in 2009 were that over 60 percent of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified, and according to more recent information from NaturalNews.com,1 Monsanto has disclosed that half the sweet corn grown on U.S. farms comes from genetically modified seed.
Genetically Modified Corn and Its Effect on Rats
Previous studies have shown that genetically modified corn causes significant kidney and liver disease in rats after only a 90-day feeding trial,2 and has a negative effect on other organs as well, including the heart and spleen.
Now a new lifetime study of rats fed a diet containing GM corn shows they not only died earlier than rats on a standard diet, they developed mammary tumors and severe kidney and liver damage as well.3
According to researchers, half the male rats and 70 percent of females died prematurely, compared with 30 percent of males and 20 percent of females in the control group.
Lead researcher Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen, believes his study involving the full lifespan of rats gives a more comprehensive and realistic view of the risks of GM corn than 90-day feeding trials. A rat at three months is still a young adult.
GM Foods and Your Pet
If you're wondering how GM corn might affect your dog or cat, unfortunately, the specifics have yet to be studied. However, in an article published in 2009 in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition regarding GM foods, the authors, Greek scientists, assert:
"The results of most of the rather few studies conducted with GM foods indicate that they may cause hepatic, pancreatic, renal, and reproductive effects and may alter hematological, biochemical, and immunologic parameters the significance of which remains unknown. The above results indicate that many GM foods have some common toxic effects. Therefore, further studies should be conducted in order to elucidate the mechanism dominating this action. Small amounts of ingested DNA may not be broken down under digestive processes and there is a possibility that this DNA may either enter the bloodstream or be excreted, especially in individuals with abnormal digestion as a result of chronic gastrointestinal disease or with immunodeficiency."4
Dr. Michael W. Fox has also compiled an extensive list of the potential risks of genetically modified foods, including:
- The toxic insecticidal agent Bacillus thuringiensis is present in most GM crops in the U.S. that wind up in animal feed and pet food.
- Glufosinate and glyphosate, which are herbicides, are applied to millions of acres of genetically modified crops across the U.S. and other countries. These poisons are absorbed by the crops – which are engineered to be herbicide resistant – while decimating everything else growing in the area and much of the aquatic life in nearby bodies of water.
These herbicides cause kidney damage in animals, endocrine disruption and birth defects in frogs, and are lethal to many amphibians. Glyphosate has also been linked to miscarriages, premature births, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, in humans.
- Nutritionists and other health experts increasingly are connecting the rise in human allergies, including skin conditions and inflammatory GI disorders to broader consumption of GM foods and food additives – in particular, GM soy products containing novel proteins. Dr. Fox suspects the high number of skin and food allergies, and other allergies associated with GI disorders are caused or aggravated by these novel proteins and other contaminants in genetically modified crops.
- Independent animal feeding safety studies show adverse or unexplained effects of GM foods, including inflammation and abnormal cell growth in the GI tract, as well as in the liver, kidney, testicles, heart, pancreas and brain.
- GM crops have proven to be unstable and prone to unplanned mutations – which means we don't really know whether the food being grown from these plants is safe or nutritious.
Dr. Fox's advice to pet owners is to buy only food with USDA Organic certification. He also advises consumers to avoid all prepared foods, including cooking oils that contain corn and soy products, since these are the products most likely to originate from GM crops.
In addition to Dr. Fox's advice, I recommend omitting grains entirely from your carnivorous pet's diet. Corn and soy ingredients are not biologically appropriate ingredients in dog and cat food, even if they are conventionally grown. Both these ingredients are linked to a wide variety of health problems in companion animals, including allergies, skin disorders, oral disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and cystitis.