GM soya harms new-born goats

April 2015
GM-free Scotland has regularly voiced concerns about the lack of GM-food safety studies focused on the most vulnerable populations, especially the very young. Routine feeding tests use healthy, post-weaning laboratory rats fed standard laboratory chow with optimised nutrition: they won't identify problems in infancy.

During the first hours after birth, before the mothers' milk as we know it is produced, suckling mammals receive 'colostrum'.

Colostrum is a clear fluid of concentrated nutrients. It's packed with essential fats and proteins including immune system and growth promoters, protective antibodies and tissue maturation factors. These antibiotic properties of colostrum plus its role in intestinal cell development are thought to be responsible for the formation of a healthy digestive system and gut microbial flora.

In other words, colostrum is what the vulnerable newly-born need to protect themselves from disease and to form the healthy organs and tissues vital for their future growth.

So, what happens to the mother's colostrum when she eats GM food?

In goats fed Roundup Ready GM soya* it seems that what happens is the colostrum has only 64% of the fat it should have, only a third of the protein it should have, and only 61% of the immune-protective proteins. What the colostrum often gains from the GM soya feed is transgenic DNA, including fragments of the artificial gene for glyphosate-tolerance and the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) promoter which drives the artificial gene.

Note. Roundup Ready soya is genetically transformed to tolerate and accumulate the active ingredient of the glyphosate-based weed killer, Roundup.
So, what happens to the kids whose mothers have been eating Roundup Ready soya?

It seems they're fine at birth, but without the boost of full-strength colostrum, they don't grow too fast and never catch up. Their blood has less than one third of the immune-protective proteins normally derived from the mother: this has never been noted as a health problem in a laboratory setting, but in the real-world could be a matter of life-and-death.


This experiment on goats raises questions which have come up before. Was the root-problem the GM nature of the feed, or its contamination with accumulated glyphosate or with Roundup formula? Did the CaMV promoter DNA end up in the kids' tissues or in their genomes where it could wreak havoc with their gene function?

The kids in the experiment were all males which were slaughtered at only 60 days old. What effect does GM-compromised colostrum have on females? What effects does GM-compromised colostrum have in adulthood or old age?

There's no reason at all to assume this early nutritional failing due to GM soya consumption is peculiar to goats, and every reason to suspect it would have multiple life-long effects on health.

The study brings to mind Russian scientist Irina Ermakova's study (quickly discredited by the biotech industry and scientific community to prevent publication) in which stunted growth was observed in the offspring of rats fed Roundup Ready soya from before conception, not just for two months before the birth as in the goat study [2]

Perhaps the breast-is-best campaigners should be demanding a fuller investigation of the effects of GM on milk quality with particular attention to colostrum and to the possible presence of CaMV (and other) viral promoters?


[1] GM HUMANS - News, February 2015


  • R. Tudisco, et al., 2015, Genetically modified soybean in a goat diet: influence on kid performance, Small Ruminant Research
  • Goats fed GM Soybean Produce Abnormal Milk, Reduces Weight of Off-Spring, Institute of Science in Society Report 16.03.15
  • Irina V. Ermakova, Influence of Genetically Modified-SOYA on the Birth-Weight and Survival of Rat Pups: Preliminary Study, Paper presented to the National Association for Genetic Security Symposium on genetic modification in Russia, 10.10.05

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