Health effects of feeding genetically modified (GM) crops to livestock animals: A review

Clazien J. de Vos*, Manon Swanenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


A large share of genetically modified (GM) crops grown worldwide is processed into livestock feed. Feed safety of GM crops is primarily based on compositional equivalence with near-isogenic cultivars and experimental trials in rodents. However, feeding studies in target animals add to the evaluation of GM crops with respect to animal health. This review aimed to evaluate the possible health effects of feeding GM crops to livestock by reviewing scientific publications on experimental studies in ruminants, pigs, and poultry in which at least one of the following health parameters was investigated: body condition score, organ weight, haematology, serum biochemistry, histopathology, clinical examination, immune response, or gastrointestinal microbiota. In most experiments, either Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) maize, Roundup Ready (RR) soybean, or both were fed to livestock animals. Significant differences (P<0.05) in health parameters were most often observed when animals were fed Bt maize, although most effects measured were unlikely to be of biological significance and were within normal biological ranges. Health effects of RR soybean were only observed in one experimental study with broilers. Based on this literature review, we conclude that there is no clear evidence that feed composed of first generation GM crops has adverse effects on animal health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-12
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
Early online date31 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Genetically modified (GM) feed
  • Health parameters
  • Pigs
  • Poultry
  • Ruminants

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