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Essay on Implementation of an Altered GMO Agricultural Practice in Animal Feed Production

Updated August 7, 2022
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Essay on Implementation of an Altered GMO Agricultural Practice in Animal Feed Production essay

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The controversy over genetically modified organisms has pushed its way to the battlefront over modern agricultural practices and has left the majority of the United States population to believe that GMOs pose a threat to overall heath. Organizations have risen to advocate for the use of organic agriculture and the depletion of modified crops; gaining much support from American consumers. One large aspect of this debate is whether GMOs should be used to feed livestock. The production of animal feed directly affects the health of livestock, quality of animal products, the land the crops were grown on, and resources used to grow the crops (Harinder and Ankers 309). With goals to improve the safety of animals, animal product consumers, and the environment, the Non-GMO Project pushes against the movement of GMO feed in crop production. This is because the organization believes that modified crops pose harm to the animal who consume them with toxins produced by the incorporated genes.

Alongside this, the Non-GMO Project also believes that could also harm human consumers of GMO feed meat. (Non-GMO Project). The crops also have genes that allow them to be directly sprayed with the herbicide Round-Up which is a common practice of GMO agriculture that is believed to develop cancer through these chemicals (Smith). While the use of cancer-causing herbicides do cause harm to animals, animal product consumers, and the environment, all other aspects of GMO farming are safe and can provide benefits to all stakeholders affected by animal feed production. With modifications, the use of genetically modified organisms in animal feed production provides safe nourishment for animals and animal product consumers, will decrease the vast amount of land used for feed growth which will provide more available land for human crops, and is a more sustainable agricultural system than the popularizing organic agriculture.

In genetically modified crop production, “small segments of exogenous (externally derived) DNA sequences are inserted into the genome of a recipient organism to make them express a given character” that can vary anywhere from “drought tolerance, resistance to viruses, delayed ripening, synthesis of nutritional elements,” and many more (Gomiero 1831). Typically, genes that are found in all genetically modified organisms produce a pesticide inside of the crops called Bt toxin that prevents insects from eating the crops as well as resistance to herbicides like Round-Up (Non-GMO Project). This resistance allows the farmers to spray the land the crops are growing on with chemicals that kill weeds without worry of the crops being damaged. Processes like this are easy to manage and results in a high amount of crop yield.

Though current GMO practices are undemanding and successful, the resulting use of herbicides-which contain glyphosate, “a class 2A carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer” -are linked to causing cancer due to its high risk of genetic mutation to exposed organisms (Smith). This version of GMO agriculture is not a sustainable practice because of its dangerous affects that the glyphosate places on any life that consumes it. If the practice of GMO animal food production were to be modified without the use of toxic chemical pesticides, the production of animal feed would be far better off than current GMO agriculture or organic agricultural practices. This would lead to crop production of safe, nourishing animal feed that would benefit only from added genes.

The most common worry of genetically modified crops in animal feed is their safety with concerns to the animals as well as those who consume animal product of the animal feed. The culprit of this incrimination besides the already proven dangerous glyphosate is the Bt toxin that is produced by added genes to the genome of the crop. This Bt toxin is used as a pesticide produced by the crop itself to prevent insects from damaging the plant (Non-GMO Project). Studies conducted on the effects of Bt toxin found that “even at the highest concentration tested (1,000 𝜇g/mL), the Cry1Ac and Cry8Ka5,” factors of the Bt toxin “did not show any cytotoxic effects on lymphocytes” (Farias et al. 11). This test used high amounts of Bt toxin on mammalian white blood cells and found that it did not poison, genetically mutate, or even affect the studied cells. This study shows that the Bt toxin in plats is safe to mammals when inside of the body system.

Further proof of this evidence can be found in the current livestock. With statistics on GMO feed livestock, “It is estimated that 70-90% of GE crop biomass has been consumed by multiple generations of food-producing animals for the past 20 years” (Young and Van Eenennaam “Genetically engineered feed” 357). Livestock have been eating genetically modified crops for generations now and have not shown any negative effects caused by these crops showing the safety of these crops. Alongside animal health, genetically modified crops without the use of glyphosate have shown no effect to the products produced from the animals like milk, meat, and eggs. A study conducted by Alison L. Van Eenennaam and Amy E. Young in there paper Feeding GMO Crop to Livestock found that “ no reliable traces of GE DNA or protein have been detected in products from GE-feed animals,” with support of “a freely available publication from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology provides details on the safety of products from animals feed GE crops” (Young and Van Eenennaam).

This study found that no traces of the Bt toxin were present in the food products created by animals feed genetically modified crops. Conclusive with all studies on the unaltering effect of the Bt toxin and the recorded prolonged health of animals, genetically modified crops by themselves do not pose a threat to the health of GMO feed animals or animal product consumers.

When it comes to the production of animal feed, a vast number of crops is required for the nourishment of livestock animals. It is estimated that “about 30 pounds of feed are needed to grow a single pound of beef” (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). If one were to consider this weight of crops multiplied to equal the weight of a two-hundred-pound cow and consider how many cows there are in the United States, it can be seen that animal feed production dominates most of agricultural practices. In the world, “pasture and arable land dedicated to the production of feed representing almost 80% of the total agricultural land” (Global Agriculture). Most of world agricultural production is focused on feeding animals, leaving very little agricultural land devoted to human crop production. This creates a problem for the available crop land that is devoted on producing human nuirshment. With concerns of the future, much debate is held over “whether we can grow enough food sustainably for an expanding world population,” with belief that action is needed to be taken to support future generations (Dimick).

A solution that could increase the available crop land for human food production would be further implementation of specific genetics to all animal feed. This would increase crop yield and growth factors for animal feed pathing the way for more agricultural land for humans. Right now, a majority of the crops that are used to feed animals already are genetically modified and “GM crops have allowed an average increase in agricultural yield by 22 percent” (Alliance for Science). This has shown promise for a shift in land use but has not drastically made a change in the use of agricultural land. If genes that improved crop yield through proteins that encoded for drought resistance, accelerated growth, and higher nutritional value were to be incorporated into all crops that feed animals, similar to that of the Golden rice crop, then the average land use would decrease (Gomiero 1831).

This would be possible because crops would be able to grow faster in more extreme environments that also provide more nourishment that than the average crop. If this were widespread to all animal feed production, the animal consumption of crops would decrease as well as the available land that is needed to grow said crops. This would leave more land for the human population to use for human food production, increasing the available nourishment for humans to feed a exponentially growing world population.

Alongside the vast amount of land that is used to grow animal feed, a large amount of resources are needed to grow theses crops. Specifically, the use of water in crop production causes worry due to its universal need to all life on earth. Today, the use of organic agriculture has be popularized and pushed by the Non-GMO Project to many poultry and livestock feed farmers (Non-GMO Project). Unlike industrialized farming, organic agriculture entails a system of farming that focuses on the smart use of water, soil, and biodiversity with respect to the climate that the crops are grown in (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

This type of agriculture would typically “require more land to be cropped, and more working time is required to produce food” (Gomiero 1835). This entails that the crops need more water for a longer amount of time meaning that organic agriculture requires a long-term use of water for a lower production of crops. Though organic agriculture is focused on the conservative use of resources, it is not fit for the mass production that animal feed requires. To produce the amount of food same that is needed for animal nutrition, organic agriculture would need a vast amount of land, a longer period for growth, and a larger amount of water.

Replacing organic agriculture with modified GMO agriculture in animal feed production can lead to a reduced use of water. Crops with genes that encode for a quicker growth could reduce the amount of time that a plant grows, therefore decreasing the plants’ amount on intake. With research from the journal, Nature Communications, researchers are developing crops that implement a photosynthetic adaptation called Crassulacean acid metabolism (Yang et al.). The use of Crassulacean acid metabolism can be found in plants found in extremely dry environments that allow continual growth of the plant with very little amounts of water (Yang et al.). Crops that continually use this process will need little amounts of water.

Another crop water reduction advancement researched by Harvard University is due to stromal openings of crops. The stroma is the opening on the underside of the leaf that exchange gases (Harvard University). Scientists at Harvard studied the stromal openings by genetically modifying a tobacco plant to have more closed stroma and found that “the tobacco plants grew to the same weight as non-genetically modified control, but required 25% less water” (Harvard University). Implementation of this stroma gene alongside modification of plants using Crassulacean acid metabolism into the mass production of animal feed the crops grown would decrease the agricultural us of water. Crops would retain the same physical aspects, but would have a deceased intake of water, leaving more water to be used in other means such as human market crop production or to be uses as drinking water.

Overall, if the practices of non-glyphosate genetically modified agriculture were to be applied careful scientific research widespread to the animal feed production industry, animals and humans will see a positive increase in available nourishment. The current movement against GMOs today backed by the Non-GMO Project is in favor of the health of animals, humans and the environment. Though the prolonged effects of GMOs is currently unstudied and presumed delirious to health, the use of GMOs in animal production shows promise to increase the health of animals and humans through increased, safe nourishment of animals, producing safe products, more available land for human crop growth, and an agricultural practice that uses less natural resources than the popularized organic agriculture.

Works Cited

  1. “Agriculture: Food vs. Feed.” Science On a Sphere, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ,
  2. “Animal Feed Is the Key to a Non-GMO Future.” Non-GMO Project, Non-GMO Project , 19 Oct. 2017,
  3. Dimick, Dennis. “As World’s Population Booms, Will Its Resources Be Enough for Us?” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, 21 Sept. 2014,
  4. Farias, Davi Felipe, et al. “Evaluation of Cytotoxic and Antimicrobial Effects of Two Bt Cry Proteins on a GMO Safety Perspective.” BioMed Research International, vol. 2014, Jan. 2014, pp. 1–14. Academic Search Premier, doi:10.1155/2014/810490.
  5. Harinder, Makker P.S., and Ankers, Philippe. “Towards Sustainable Animal Diets: A Survey-Based Study.” Animal Feed Science & Technology, vol. 198, Dec. 2014, pp. 309–322. Academic Search Premier, doi:10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2014.09.018.
  6. Joy, Mike. “Images of Cows Eating and Info-Graphic of Agricultural Animal Production .” Fresh Water for Life, 17 Mar. 2017,
  7. “Meat and Animal Feed.” Global Agriculture ,
  8. Norero, Daniel. “GMO Crops Have Been Increasing Yield for 20 Years, with More Progress Ahead.” Alliance for Science, 23 Feb. 2018,
  9. Smith, Jeffrey. “GMOs and Cancer .” Institute for Responsible Technology,
  10. “Thirsty Plants: Can Plants Be Genetically Modified to Need Less Water?” Science in the News, Harvard University , 19 Mar. 2018,
  11. Gomiero, Tiziano. “Agriculture and Degrowth: State of the Art and Assessment of Organic and Biotech-Based Agriculture from a Degrowth Perspective.” Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 197, Oct. 2018, pp. 1823–1839. Academic Search Premier, doi:10.1016/ j.jclepro.2017.03.237.
  12. “What Is Organic Agriculture .” Organic Agriculture , Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2018,
  13. Yang, Xiaohan, et al. “The Kalanchoë Genome Provides Insights into Convergent Evolution and Building Blocks of Crassulacean Acid Metabolism.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 1 Dec. 2017,
  14. Young, A. E., and A. L. Van Eenennaam. “Feeding GMO Crops to Livestock .” Beef Issues Quarterly Archive, Beef Research , 30 Mar. 2016, beefissuesquarterly.aspx?id=5672
  15. Young, A. E., and A. L. Van Eenennaam. “Genetically Engineered Feed: Impact on Animal Performance, Health and Products.” Journal of Animal Science, vol. 95, Aug. 2017, p. 357. Academic Search Premier, doi:10.2527/asasann.2017.733.
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