Horse-canada.com - Full Article
Written by: Shannon Pratt-Phillips, Ph.D.
Get the facts on genetically modified horse foods, from equine nutritionist Shannon Pratt-Phillips, Ph.D., before you decide whether to feed them or not.
The term genetically modified organism (GMO) describes an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering. This is different from organisms that have been altered through selective breeding, such in domestic animals, cattle and pigs, as well as most plant species. Genetic engineering is a process in which an organism’s DNA is altered, by mutating, inserting or deleting genetic material, resulting in a transgenic organism.
Genetic engineering has produced transgenic mice, which are used extensively to investigate human disease, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The drug Humulin, used by millions to manage diabetes, is the product of genetically engineered bacteria. Plants have been genetically engineered for decades, including antibiotic-resistant tobacco plants, and the first genetically modified food for human consumption, tomatoes, which were modified to slow down the ripening process.
In crops, transgenic plants are most common, where genes have been inserted into the plant’s cells in effort to provide desirable characteristics, such as resistance to pests or herbicides, or to increase the nutrient content of the plant. Corn, for example, has been modified to increase the lysine content, making it a better source of this key amino acid.
Insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are expressed in corn and other crops, which allows these plants to resist pests, thereby decreasing the need for insecticides. This also, of course, decreases residual insecticides on the plants that we and our horses consume, and decreases the impact on the environment...
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