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GE Corn Associated with Major Reproductive Problems in Pigs & Cows

Bt corn has been associated with up to an 80% reduction in piglet birth rate on mid-western farms. The calving rate decreased by 20 to 30% when it was fed to the cows on one farm. On another farm the spontaneous abortion rate in the cows was very high when they were fed Bt and Round Up Ready GE corn. The Agricultural Minister from Denmark was informed of this negative effect of the Bt corn on pigs last week. Denmark is being pressured to take GE corn from the US. Denmark is willing to pay for the segregation of the corn and the companies say they won't do this.
In the spring of 1999 a farm in Iowa with 800 cattle had 17spontaneous abortions (at many different levels of fetal development). The normal abortion rate was 1 or 2 every other year. This farm grew the corn and hay for their feed. It was the first year that Bt and Roundup Ready GE corn were added to the sileage . Prior to that no GE corn had been grown on the farm. The winter feed ration was a mix of about half corn sileage and half alfalfa hay with about 1 % vitamins, minerals and soybean oil added. When the alfalfa portion of the ration was decreased and the corn sileage portion increased the abortions continued. When the corn sileage portion of the ration was decreased and the alfalfa hay portion increased the abortions stopped. Iowa State University veterinarians found no viruses in the fetuses and a testing lab found nitrates at normal levels in the corn and alfalfa. In 2002, Jerry Rosman (fourth generation Iowa farmer with 30 years of pig raising experience) reported an 80% reduction in piglet birth rate when his pigs were fed Bt corn (Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman April 29, 2002). The sows became pseudo-pregnant. Autopsies showed that the sows had fluit buildup, but were never pregnant. Standard toxicological tests came back negative. Tissue and blood samples came back negative for all known diseases. Estrogen tests were normal. The corn contained high levels of Fusarium fungus. One strain of Fusarium was found in the Bt corn samples from 15 hog producers that experienced the pseudopregnancy problem. The population level of Fusarium appears to build up with time. Jerry's corn in 2000 had 25,000 to 65,000 CFUs (colony fungus units) of one strain of Fusarium and by 2001 there were 25,000 to 2.65 million CFUs of this strain in the corn. The calving rate decreased by 20 to 30% when Jerry fed his cows the Bt corn (stalks, sileage, and grain) and he said that they were not as healthy as before they ate the Bt corn. The Bt corn from Jerry's farm had two gene sequences that were engineered into the corn as well as two gene sequences that were not supposed to be there. It sounds like GE corn contaminated by GE corn. An Iowa Court ruled that Jerry Rosman had to sell off the affected cows and corn before the research was completed. The pigs had already been sold. After much legal haggling Friends of the Earth was able to buy 5000 bu of the corn. Much of the corn was sold to Cargill who has Frito Lay (with a non-GE corn policy thanks to the Starlink corn debacle) as one of their customers. Cargill has a written policy statement that says they do not take corn that is not approved for the European Union (EU) and that they test every load for GE contamination. It has been reported by Iowa farmers that not every corn handling station is testing for GE corn contamination. GE corn is not approved for the EU. The Agricultural Minister from Denmark was told by US companies that they will not segregate the GE from the non-GE corn even though Denmark is willing to pay for the segregation.

Corrections to article 20.Jun.2003 22:59

Suze Brown

The hay fed the cows that had spontaneous abortions contained alfalfa as well as oats and clover. The 1% portion of the diet contained dical, mineral salt and soybean meal, not oil.