Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What Happens When Wild Boars And Fallow Deer Snack On Genetically Modified Corn?

Date:
October 28, 2009
Source:
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Summary:
When wild boar and deer, traditional menu items in the fall, eat genetically modified corn, do transgenic residues accumulate in their meat? Do they spread GM corn via their feces? The answer in each case is no, according to scientists.

Wild boars. Deer stew, roast of wild boar, venison ragout -- come fall, all varieties of game are in season for gourmets.
Credit: iStockphoto

The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation funded a study to address two controversial questions: When wild boar and deer, traditional menu items in the fall, eat genetically modified corn, do transgenic residues accumulate in their meat? Do they spread GM corn via their feces? The answer in each case is no, according to scientists at TUM, the Technische Universitaet Muenchen. They recommend, however, that such studies be conducted separately for all GM plants.

Deer stew, roast of wild boar, venison ragout -- come fall, all varieties of game are in season for gourmets. However, ever since the worldwide surge in genetically modified corn, critical consumers' appetites have abated somewhat. After all, it was not clear precisely how wild animals digest transgenic corn and whether or not residues actually accumulate in meat, for example. Molecular biologists from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have shown that there is no need for concern -- also with regard to the inadvertent dispersal of genetically modified corn via wild animal feces.

Only a few weeks ago we could still observe them: whole families of wild boar rummaging in the corn fields in early fall, feasting on corncobs. Corn -- or maize, as it's known to scientists -- is a high-energy delicacy for local game, which is why it is used specifically for winter feeding and to divert animals from farmers' fields. Today, with GM (genetically modified) maize acreage increasing worldwide, biologists are discussing a highly controversial question: What happens when a wild boar takes a snack in a transgenic maize field or when deer feed on imported GM maize in winter? Molecular biologists at the TUM can now provide answers to these questions.

With funding from the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, a research team from the TU Mόnchen examined in detail how fallow deer (dama dama) and wild boars (sus scrofa) metabolize GM maize and whether they inadvertently disperse germinable transgenic seeds in the landscape via their feces. To find answers to these questions, the scientists working for Prof. Heinrich H.D. Meyer from the Chair of Physiology selectively fed fallow deer living in outdoor enclosures and wild boars kept in pens genetically modified corn chaff and grain corn for several weeks in a row. The respective control groups were fed conventional maize over the same time period. All the while the scientists collected samples of feces from every group to be analyzed for germinability at a later point in time.

After completing the experiment, the TUM physiologists took a number of samples from all of the wild animals: from the digestive tract, all internal organs, blood, muscles and other kinds of tissue. They then applied immunological techniques and polymerase chain reaction to look for transgenic components. They found them only in the digestive tract of GM-fed wild boars: Here they found evidence for small fragments of the gene that had been introduced into the GM maize. However, outside of the gastrointestinal tract the scientists found no trace whatsoever, neither in the tissue of wild boars nor in that of the fallow deer. Hence, there is no need to worry when enjoying a game dish: "The meat of the animals we examined was entirely free of transgenic components," said Prof. Meyer.

Organic farmers and environmentalists are much more concerned about the uncontrolled spread of GM maize via wild animal feces. Yet here, too, Prof. Meyer can ease everyone's worries. His team examined the collected samples of feces for intact maize corns capable of germination. A truly insignificant number makes it through the gastrointestinal passage at all: For wild boars a mere 0.015% of the conventional and 0.009% of the transgenic maize kernels were excreted intact. Only one single maize plantlet could then be grown under standard laboratory conditions, and one further seedling showed abnormal growth. The fallow deer were even tougher on the maize: Not a single intact and thus germinable maize corn could be found in their feces.

However, the digestion process is not as effective for all seeds and all animal species, as the scientists were also able to show. They had additionally fed all examined animal groups with conventional rape. They found not a single intact rape seed in the wild boar feces -- but in those of the fallow deer there were plenty, and 13.6% of those were capable of germination. "This shows that such studies need to be conducted separately for all genetically modified plants," Prof. Meyer concluded.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Wiedemann et al. Fate of genetically modified maize and conventional rapeseed, and endozoochory in wild boar (Sus scrofa). Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift fur Saugetierkunde, 2009; 74 (3): 191 DOI: 10.1016/j.mambio.2008.07.002
  2. Guertler et al. Fate of recombinant DNA and Cry1Ab protein after ingestion and dispersal of genetically modified maize in comparison to rapeseed by fallow deer (Dama dama). European Journal of Wildlife Research, 2008; 54 (1): 36 DOI: 10.1007/s10344-007-0104-4

Cite This Page:

Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "What Happens When Wild Boars And Fallow Deer Snack On Genetically Modified Corn?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026162542.htm>.
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. (2009, October 28). What Happens When Wild Boars And Fallow Deer Snack On Genetically Modified Corn?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026162542.htm
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "What Happens When Wild Boars And Fallow Deer Snack On Genetically Modified Corn?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026162542.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A kangaroo was saved from drowning in a backyard suburban swimming pool in Australia's Victoria state on Thursday. Australian broadcaster Channel 7 showed footage of the kangaroo struggling to get out of the pool. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) — A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins