Dog and Cat Food Safety Issues

Genetically modified corn could cause kidney damage to your pet.

One thing is for certain, the food industry is changing — on many levels. The Monsanto Company is the leader in diversifying agriculture to the point of engineering foods that appear on your dinner plate and in your pet’s bowl. The most recent travesty involves corn. The MON863 is a genetically modified corn that contains the Bacillus thuringiensis gene. Why is Monsanto inserting the bacillus gene into a corn’s gene? Because this lovely little gene actually causes the corn to produce a pesticide!

This is nothing new. Genetically engineered grains have been distributed since 1996. We are talking about corn, soy, wheat, rice, barely, and various types oil seeds, even alfalfa. The seeds are labeled “hybrid” seeds and the rationale behind using these seeds is higher crop yield. In today’s corporate farming world, the bottom line is what counts, not your safety and certainly not the safety of your pets. The defense is that these crops are used primarily for livestock. Yet, there is no evidence that this is the case. In fact, there are no laws preventing these crops from being sold for human (or pet) consumption.

Back in 1998 corn, wheat, soy, and other grain seeds developed by Monsanto to resist the Roundup herbicide were approved by the FDA. The corn is a GA21 and contains a modified epsps gene that results in the plant’s resistance to the Roundup herbicide. However, it also results in the plant’s absorption of this herbicide. (All plants exposed to an herbicide will absorb the herbicide, resulting in death of the plant.) The argument is that most plants treated with herbicides are not slated for the dinner table, hence the reason for killing them off. In the case of the GA21 corn, it is the opposite. The plant is sprayed, it absorbs the herbicide, but it resists the herbicide and does not die. Ultimately this corn ends up in the human and animal food chain.

In the case of humans or livestock, it can be argued that there is not enough concentration of the herbicide to create problems. In fact, many studies support that these genetically modified foods are perfectly safe for consumption. This is despite many reports that reveal just the opposite. Additionally, this argument can not be made for our pets, who are much smaller than us. Furthermore, independent laboratory tests have revealed that genetically modified grains can create liver, kidney and spleen damage — at least in rats. What exactly does this mean to your pet? Damage to the kidneys can result in renal failure. Damage to the liver results in liver toxicity. And damage to the spleen is fatal. For our companion animals damage to any of these vital organs spells out a death sentence.

Despite all the modern advances in pet health care and the nutritional information available to consumers, our pets are developing some alarming diseases: Diabetes, kidney failure, and cancer. These common human ailments are on the rise in our pets. Why jeopardize your pets’ health by serving food that can place them at risk? By taking the initiative to purchase only grain-free food for your pet, you will reduce their exposure to harmful GMOs. The conclusion is that any genetically modified grain that enters your dog’s and cat’s food is counterproductive to their health.

Gyvel Young is a journalist and published author. Her passion is animal behavior and nutrition.


Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, 6:211-225, 2003

Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 44, Issue 7, July 2006, Pages 1092-1099

de Vendômois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini GE. A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health. Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5:706-726.

China: A shameful tradition of tainted food

Published on Taipei Times

EDITORIAL: A shameful tradition of tainted food

Friday, Oct 17, 2008, Page 8

In China, tasteless and colorless melamine has been part of the food chain for a long time. Its addition to Sanlu’s milk powder has now created a global panic over contaminated Chinese foodstuffs.

And this was not the first time.

In May last year, companies in China’s Jiangsu and Shandong provinces added melamine to wheat protein and barley protein powder, which caused thousands of pets in the US, Canada and other countries to fall ill or die.

More than 60 million pet food products were recalled. Feed for 20 million chickens, hundreds of thousands of cultivated fish and thousands of pigs was also contaminated with melamine.

The immediate reaction by the Chinese authorities to the allegations of poisonous animal food was strong denial, and it was only when the US insisted that it be involved and sent representatives to China to take samples that the scandal was exposed.

So what did the Chinese authorities learn from that incident? Nothing.

In the most recent crisis, local governments continued to offer denials even after New Zealand company Fonterra Co-operative Group used diplomatic channels to put pressure directly on the Chinese government. It is well-known within the Chinese industry that melamine is added to milk powder, vegetable proteins, processed food products and animal feed. The government knows it and tolerates it.

Melamine is one of many harmful additives, and even if the melamine problem were eliminated, other hazardous substances could be added to products.

On Wednesday, frozen green beans imported from China to Japan were found to contain 34,500 times the amount of pesticides allowed in Japan. The government immediately ordered a recall.

There is no end to all the problems with Chinese food products.

Importing countries must pressure China and demand that it meet its responsibilities by strengthening procedures to manage, inspect and ban contaminated food products and thus control the export of toxic food.

Taiwan’s Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection and the Department of Health should meet their control responsibilities and implement stricter sampling of raw materials imported finished or semi-finished.

The government should amend the Commodity Labeling Act (商品標示法) to require that, in addition to listing manufacturing country, contents and nutritional value, labels also show the production process at the place of origin for raw materials to that consumers can make an informed choice as to the safety of a specific product.

Although China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Yang Yi (楊毅) said China would handle the milk powder incident satisfactorily and demanded that Duqing Co in Shandong send representatives to Taiwan to investigate its export of dairy creamer here, he has kept mum on the issue of compensation to the victims, which displays a total lack of sincerity.

The milk powder scandal has had a serious economic impact on the companies involved as well as public health in Taiwan.

The Taiwanese government and private sectors must demand compensation from the Chinese government and manufacturers.

If China does not provide an adequate response to compensation demands in a timely manner, Chinese products should be boycotted and people should take to the streets to protest when Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visits Taipei.