Saturday, January 7, 2012

Genetically Modified Ingredients: How to Know if Your Pet Food GMO-Free

The science of genetic engineering has made it possible to alter the genetic material, like DNA, of many organisms, including bacteria, plants and even some animals. The resulting products are called Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs. Agricultural biotechnology creates genetically modified organisms for specific benefits. Developing a crop resistant to pests, herbicides, or harsh environmental conditions leads to more efficient and less expensive food production in the world. GMOs also may be created to improve the nutritional value of a food, such as a genetically-modified sweet potato that is enhanced with protein and other nutrients.1 Such benefits can be life-saving to people in food-scarce parts of the world.

Safety Concerns about GMO

As GMOs have become more prevalent since they were first introduced in the mid-1970s, scientists have studied the impact of these new organisms on our environment and health. While research is not conclusive, many experts have associated GMO foods with increases in allergies, resistance to antibiotics, and even deficiency of nutrients in crops while other natural plant substances become too concentrated and therefore toxic.2

Such concerns are true for pets, as well as humans. Veterinarian Dr. Michael W. Fox has reviewed the rise in certain pet health conditions over the same years GMOs have become more prevalent. He reports that veterinarians are now diagnosing and treating more allergies, atopic dermatitis, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. Further supporting his hypothesis that GMOs are to blame, the animals’ symptoms often disappeared soon after they were transitioned to a diet containing no genetically-modified GM ingredients.3
 
Common GMO Pet Food Ingredients
 
Certain agricultural crops have become predominantly GMO in the US, including corn and soy, common ingredients in many pet foods.  Other potential pet food ingredients that are now often genetically engineered include vegetable oils made from corn and canola, soy protein, lecithin (product from soy), and sugar beets (beet pulp in some pet foods). GMO wheat is expected to hit the market soon.  The growers that produce GMO crops then sell the food to livestock feed companies and others, including many large pet food manufacturers.4
 
GMO-Free Pet foods
 
The entities that regulate pet food do not require manufacturers to disclose whether or not their products contain genetically-modified ingredients, so you won’t see the information on a package or label. If a pet food contains no GMOs, the company making it can certify that fact through independent laboratory testing, though this is not yet widely done. Alternatively pet food manufacturers can ask their ingredient suppliers to verify the non-GMO status, as Nature’s Logic has done with its ingredient, millet.
 
As awareness of possible risks from GMO foods increases, more companies may voluntarily test. Someday regulators may even require disclosure.  In the meantime, read the pet food labels carefully and look for common GMO ingredients like corn, soy, canola oil, or rice. Most high-quality premium pet foods are corn- and soy-free, but check to be sure.
 
Beware of Hidden Ingredients in Pet Foods
 
Unfortunately, sometimes not everything that is in a pet food appears on its label. For example, the main ingredient in most "Natural Liver Flavors" is not liver, but soy flour. A typical ingredient list for one of the most widely used natural liver canine flavorings is:  Soy Flour, Hydrolyzed Poultry Liver, Brewer's Yeast, Lecithin, Natural Tocopherols, and Rosemary.5 The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets these labeling guidelines used by states that regulate the pet food industry.

If you have questions about an ingredient or the GMO-status of your pet’s food, contact the manufacturer directly. They should be able to tell you if their products contain any genetically-modified ingredients. If they can’t or won’t, pick a food by a company that will.

Nature’s Logic make the first and only full line of raw, canned, and dry pet food with NO chemically-synthesized vitamins or minerals. All essential nutrients are provided by whole foods and 100% natural ingredients. Our dog and cat foods contain NO gluten, corn, wheat, rice, soy, tapioca, peas, or potatoes, and the millet in our kibble has been certified non-GMO. For more information, visit www.natureslogic.com
 
3.      Michael W. Fox, DVM; Genetically Engineered Foods and Dog & Cat Health Issues,  www.twobitdog.com/drfox/

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