Crop Biotech Update

Shifting to Non-GM Feed Ingredients Less Beneficial to Environment, Producers and Consumers - Report

April 13, 2022

A study initiated by the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER) found that using feeds free from genetically modified (GM) ingredients may cost more for players in the livestock and poultry industries. The act can also lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions and decreased chances of preserving biodiversity habitats.

The study was conducted to examine the environmental and economic implications if animal food manufacturers in the United States needed to increase their production of non-GM feed. It aimed to enlighten the value chain company players about the intricacies of going through the process of producing GM and non-GM feed lines.

Results showed that when the use of safe, proven technologies like GM crops is limited, the costs for the producers, consumers, and environment can increase. The key findings are:

  • While GM corn and soy seeds are initially costly for farmers, these costs are offset by lower farm input costs. To convince a farmer to shift to non-GM farming, a significant premium on non-GM would be needed to offset the production cost difference.
  • Using non-GM seeds reduces the benefit of land sparing. Data showed that using GM seed traits produced millions of acres of land sparing and significantly decreased land conversion from grassy habitats to agricultural land.
  • The GM corn no-till system emits the least carbon dioxide for diesel combusted in field operations. Shifting to non-GM crops also reduces this benefit.
  • The use of GM seeds and other technologies has improved nitrogen efficiency. Studying the use of corn alone, it will take 4.9% more corn acres to yield the same level of nitrogen production as non-GM corn as compared with GM corn.
  • Segregating and isolating GM and non-GM ingredients will impose additional costs on players in the production supply chain, with the feed mill being subjected to the largest increase in the price of the product.
  • The retail price of meat, milk, or eggs fed with non-GM feed is expected to increase over animals fed with GM feed.

Learn more by reading the full report made accessible to all by IFEEDER.

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