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  • Rickinreallife's picture
    Why do we assume economic irrationality on the part of farmers? Who in their right mind would buy feed that kills animals and/or leaves them infertile. If the % of crops that have undergone changes in their genetic endowment as a result of biotech techniques make up 80 - 90% of the feed source, then shouldn't we have seen 80-90% of our livestock have died or become sterile by now if the premise of your question is correct. If that did in fact occur, then we have to assume farmers are so stupid that the continue to feed the stuff.

    The profitability of hog finishing operations are extremely sensitive to death loss. There is an ambient death loss of 3-5% in all types of pork production whether they are raised in confinement or frolic in pastures throughout the feeding period. If that rate were to rise to say just 5-7%, it would be all but eliminate any narrow profit margin. We criticize farmers for non-therapeutic use of antibiotics to achieve a 1-2% increase in rate of gain, yet accept uncritically the claims by Judy Carmen that GE crops cause noticable subacute gastrointestinal problems in hogs that if true would likely manifest in a much more dramatic drop in rate of gain since the animal would have to be using a higher percentage of feed nutrients and energy to deal with the health issue and would have less to go toward growth. Please explain how if it is economically worthwhile to achieve a 1-2% increase in rate of gain by feeding antibiotics, why it would be economically acceptable to the producer to feed a product that likely reduces rate of gain by 1-2% or more.

    By the way, in Carmen's experiment, the death loss from both the groups fed GE grain and the control groups not fed GE grain was something like 12-13%. Carmen claims this is a normal rate but is actually 2-3 times the normal death rate loss. (please note that Carmen reported that 12-13% of the hogs not fed gmo grains died at that rate, the same as those fed the gmo grains) In other words, one can't help but suspect there was something adversely affecting the health of the pigs other than diet. For that reason alone (although there are plenty of other reasons) it is reasonable to question the validity of her findings in my view, regardless of whether you are a proponent or opponent of the utilization of biotech techniques to enhance the genetic endowment of plants.