By Tigger Montague, Formulator (BioStar EQ)
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are so deeply imbedded these days in our food system, that finding GMO-free ingredients becomes a time-consuming task. Sadly, one of the ingredients found in many commercial feeds, as well as in component feeds and the whole food diet is beet pulp, and in the US, the predominant beet pulp available to us is GMO.
The science coming out of Europe on GMOs highlights specific issues in small mammals: immune system depressed or unresponsive, kidney failure, liver toxicity, digestion issues. (http://www.ijbs.com/v05p0706.htm) In some research the life span is reduced. Again, this research is on mice and rats, not horses or humans, but it highlights the potential dangers of GMO food. In response to these studies the EU has put a moratorium on any new GMO seeds through 2014.
Sugar beets are genetically modified for glyphosate (Round Up); they are called Round Up Ready seeds, meaning the farmer can spray more Round Up and not kill the sugar beets.
Glyphosate has been implicated in a wide range of health issues.
Don Huber, professor emeritus in plant pathology from Purdue University, has studied glyphosates for 20 years. From his research there are some alarming issues: “Huber suggested that Roundup Ready crops, treated with glyphosate, had higher levels of mycotoxins and lower nutrient levels than conventional crops. When consumed, the GM crops were more likely to cause disease, infertility, birth defects, cancer and allergic reactions than conventional crops.
“Huber claimed that consumption of food or feed that was genetically modified could bring the altered genes in contact with the microbes in the guts of the livestock or people who ate them.” (The Cornucopia Institute, 2013, http://www.cornucopia.org/2013/01/scientist-raises-concerns-about-gm-crops-and-glyphosate/)
Beet pulp has been fed to horses since the 1800’s. In Europe it is historically been used as winter food for horses, along with other root crops like turnips, and carrots. However, Round Up Ready GMO beet pulp is relatively new, but in many ways, it is not the same as the traditional beet pulp we are used to feeding.
I highly recommend that if you are feeding GMO beet pulp, you replace it with Speedi Beet from England. This beet pulp is GMO free. I am a huge fan of Speedi Beet. It soaks faster than our beet pulp shreds or pellets, and it is an overall cleaner product. If you cannot access Speedi Beet in your area, I recommend that you stop feeding beet pulp, and increase timothy/alfalfa pellets or cubes.
If you are feeding a commercial feed with beet pulp, seek out other commercial feeds that are beet pulp free (and soy and corn free). Remember GMO soy and corn are rampant in the feed industry.
Of course the bottom line is we need more GMO free food for our horses! In order to get that, we as consumers, have to demand GMO labeling. Companies currently using GMO ingredients will bow to pressure from consumers, when consumers can look at a label and see the GMO ingredients. Many polls over the last two years show an overwhelming support for GMO labeling from consumers (82-87%). When given a choice, many consumers will choose non GMO. Whether we understand the dangerous science behind biotechnology and the alterations of genes and thus DNA, we consumers want healthy, whole food. The big food companies and big Agriculture know this, and they will do everything in their power to stop GMO labeling. The good news is, in a capitalistic market, the consumer ultimately has the last word….seek out GMO free food and supplements for your horse, your pets, and your family.