No difference in meat from rabbits fed GM soybean meal

By Chloe Mitchell, ASAS/ASAP communications intern

GM soybean rabbit

Photo: Dr. Umberto Bernabucci

A new study from researchers in Italy adds to a growing body of research
that shows meat from animals fed genetically modified plant material is no different than meat from animals fed a conventional diet.

The research, recently published online in the Journal of Animal Science, investigates the presence of transgenic plant material in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and meat of rabbits fed genetically modified (GM) soybean meal. The study was conducted at Tuscia University in Viterbo, Italy.

Fifteen male New Zealand White meat rabbits were used in the study, constituting a treatment group of ten rabbits fed a diet containing GM soybean meal, and a control group of five rabbits fed a diet containing conventional soybean meal. The aim of the study was to examine the potential for the transfer of transgenic DNA from the GM feed to the tissues and GI contents of rabbits fed the GM diet. The treatment diets were fed from weaning to slaughter. Samples were collected, including blood, organ and muscle, as well as stomach contents, hair samples and fecal samples.

The authors found no transgenic DNA in the tissue samples from rabbits fed the GM diet. However, they found traces of transgenic DNA in the stomach contents, fecal samples, and hair samples. The presence of the transgenic DNA in the stomach contents and feces is indicative of incomplete digestion of the GM soybean feed, and the hair sample result suggests environmental contamination. Similar results were found in the control group, with an endogenous reference gene (lectin gene) found to be present in the digesta and feces of the control rabbits, yet absent from the rabbit meat.

Overall, these results indicate that the meat from rabbits fed GM feed is no different than the meat of rabbits fed conventional crops.

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