QI understand GM maize is grown in the US for cattle feed. Is any of this sold to the UK agricultural sector for cattle feed? And if so, it is known that maize has a deficit of certain nutrients [which necessitate cattle fed on maize being also fed supplem

I understand GM maize is grown in the US for cattle feed. Is any of this sold to the UK agricultural sector for cattle feed? And if so, it is known that maize has a deficit of certain nutrients [which necessitate cattle fed on maize being also fed supplements], is there a similar deficit in GM maize or are there any different nutrient deficits with GM maize?

AExpert Answer

Thanks for your question.  I’m going to break down my response to make sure I answer all of your points. 

  • First, contrary to some Internet rumors, GM maize is not just used for animal feed in the United States. GM maize is grown for the same uses as non-GM maize, and they are no different in their nutrient composition.  According to USDA, approximately 45 percent of corn grown in the United States is used as feed for animals.  In animal nutrition, individual feeds that make up the total diet are selected for specific reasons. The nutritional reason animals are fed maize is that it is a good source of energy (i.e., calories), both as a result of digestible energy per pound of feed and because animals readily consume it.

    According to USDA-ERS, corn processed for human consumption and industrial uses accounts for about one-third of U.S. corn utilization. Dry millers process corn into flakes for cereal, corn flour, corn grits, corn meal and brewers' grits for beer production.  It also can be wet-processed into high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), glucose and dextrose, starch, corn oil, beverage alcohol, industrial alcohol and fuel ethanol. Approximately one-third of the corn used for ethanol production comes back as animal feed in the form of distillers' grains.

 

  • Second, regarding your question about the U.K., the U.K. imports most of the maize it uses, but less than 5 percent of it is used as feed. In the U.K., wheat and barley are more commonly used as energy sources in diets of animals. 

  • And last, regarding the nutritional composition of GM maize and maize in animal feed, diets for animals need to be balanced for many nutrients.  For example, here are the numbers for protein, which often is the most expensive nutrient in their diet.  Compared with other feeds, maize is relatively low in protein (9.4 percent) compared with the nutritional requirements of many animals (e.g., 18 percent for a high-producing dairy cow).  Adding soybean meal (53.4 percent protein) to diets is a good way of achieving nutritional goals for protein.  In fact, it stands to reason that prices of commodity feeds are related to their protein content.

    As has been discussed in previous answers on this site, and contrary to Internet myths, all GM products go through comprehensive composition testing. Regardless of whether derived from GM or non-GM, the maize grain is nutritionally equivalent.  This manuscript has data on the nutritional composition of SmartStax corn, which has eight genes added by GM technology, compared with near-isogenic conventional corn.

 

Posted on January 31, 2018
Thank you for your question. There are various aspects of your question. I assume your question refers to the use of Agrobacterium rhizogenes by scientists to intentionally transfer genes from the bacterium to plants. Infection and DNA transfer from this bacterium occurs in nature all the time to cause disease. Such transformed plants are not classified as GMOs since transfer occurred naturally. If this is done by scientists then it would be classified as a GMO. Rules and... Read More
Answer:
Posted on March 1, 2018
I’m a Monsanto scientist who has more than 20 years of experience with genetic modification of plants. I will try to answer your question, even though I don’t ever do experiments on animals, certainly not on humans, of course! Can humans be genetically modified…but a much bigger question is should humans be genetically modified? There are two ways to think about genetic modification of humans (or any animal). One way is modification of somatic cells, and the other is the... Read More
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Posted on May 10, 2017
The simple answer is that 20+ years of composition assessments of GMO crops have demonstrated that crop composition is not appreciably affected by the GM process (1). In addition, data collected through that time have indicated that general factors such as the growth environment can contribute to notable variation in component levels (2). Plant agglutinins (or lectins) and amylase inhibitors are examples of anti-nutritional compounds that may be present in crops. The relevance of such a... Read More