Pesticides sprayed on GMO crops driving the move
Keegan-Filion farm in South Carolina, which prides itself on its natural production methods, is switching to non-GMO feed for its poultry and pigs due to concerns over the pesticides sprayed on GMO crops.
Note that this sentence in the article below about this development is demonstrably false in every aspect:
“There is clear scientific consensus that eating GMOs won’t hurt you: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration; American Medical Association and World Health Organization have all signed off on GMO consumption.”
* There is no scientific consensus on GMO safety.
* The US FDA doesn’t “sign off on GMO consumption” in any sense that means it judges them safe. Instead it reminds the GMO developer company that liability for putting an unsafe food on the market remains with the company – see sample letter here
* The American Medical Association (AMA) doesn’t claim GMOs are safe. It has issued a statement opposing GMO labelling yet acknowledges “a small potential for adverse events” including toxicity and allergenicity. It therefore recommends mandatory safety assessments prior to release of GM foods – a system which, as the statement noted, is not in place in the US.
* The World Health Organisation doesn’t claim GMOs are safe. It says, “It is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods” since all GMOs are different. It also says “No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of GM foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved” – but that’s because no tests or monitoring are carried out anywhere that could show such effects! It’s not possible to find effects if no one is looking.
Keegan-Filion switching to non-GMO feed; warns meat prices will rise
The Post and Courier, 15 April 2016
Keegan-Filion Farm later this month is switching to non-GMO feed for its chickens, turkeys and hogs, a move that Marc Filion estimates will bump up the per pound price of his meat by 25 cents.
“It’s going to greatly increase our costs, and it could cost us restaurant business,” Filion says. “But it’s something we think is important.”
Dozens of restaurants in the Charleston area buy from Keegan-Filion, widely recognized as the area’s top meat producer. According to Filion, when he and wife Annie surveyed 60 restaurants on their delivery list, all but three expressed support for the feed switch. Still, Filion has seen previously loyal customers “go back to buying off the Sysco truck” when the mounting costs of rent or payroll force them to revisit their budgetary math.
Meat from Keegan-Filion is already antibiotic-free and hormone-free. The farm’s cows eat grass, so they won’t be affected by the feed adjustment.
Genetically-modified crops are highly controversial: Tamar Haspel of the Washington Post has described the conversation about them as “the World War I of food issues,” pointing out opposing camps “have dug trenches, and they’re lobbing grenades over the wall.” Arguments against GMOs are manifold, and include concerns about environmental health; economic justice; culinary aesthetics and human safety (There is clear scientific consensus that eating GMOs won’t hurt you: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration; American Medical Association and World Health Organization have all signed off on GMO consumption.)
For the Filions, though, the most significant issue involves the pesticides and herbicides sprayed on GMO corn and other grains.
“We’re not seeing the lowering of chemical use we were promised,” says Filion, who hasn’t applied chemicals to his hay field for a decade. The Filions’ chickens are housed in floorless poultry trailers that are dragged from one spot to another, so they fertilize the field.
A pair of Pennsylvania State University entomologists last year published a study straightforwardly titled “Large-scale deployment of seed treatments has driven rapid increase in use of neonicotinoid insecticides and preemptive pest management in U.S. field crops.” (Neonicotinoid insecticides are a relatively new class of insecticides widely used worldwide.) But scholarly analyses vary somewhat depending on which crops; which chemicals and which countries are examined.
As Filion acknowledges, there are online claims for almost everything related to GMOs: One farmer posted about barnyard rats which ate though his sack of non-GMO corn, but refused to touch his retired GMO stash.
Filion won’t hazard a guess as to whether his animals will prefer the new feed, or if the dietary change will alter their flavor. “It’s the chemicals,” he confirms when asked to reiterate his rationale. “They’re coming in and spraying Roundup.”