Animal feed is the entry point for vegetables into the food chain..
Due to the need for food and the technology now available to secure and increase agricultural production, a practical application of genetic engineering has been reached with the development of solutions that are practical, safe, and affordable.
The importance of GMOs lies in their rapid adoption by agricultural producers and that these products are currently the vast majority for export in world trade. Fig. 1.
Fig. 1. Total arable area by country, million hectares. V. gr. Mexico has 20 million hectares of arable land and only 1% is grown with seeds of GMO origin. Source: 2023, World Bank/FAO and OEDC, 2015.
The best-known GMO crops are corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, papaya, beets, potatoes, and alfalfa.
In GMOs there are some basic concepts that need to be considered.
The modifications by applied genetics -recombination technology- on seeds has been developed in two types: agronomic (protect production) and productive (modify the product).
As a first example, we have plants tolerant to herbicides or insect resistance and for the second concept we can have seeds that result in higher content of a substance.
In addition, there is a third group: plants designed for a specific production purpose/challenge (stress, drought), which are already in the field-test phase.
Until now, GMO varieties carry a single attribute as a modification, but the tendency is to present varieties with two or more attributes, introduced simultaneously or obtained by hybridization..
Genetic recombination modifies the DNA of plants to introduce a gene that is the code to instruct how and when a protein is made -enzyme- to maintain the required defense process, most of the time in the stem or leaves or roots of a vegetable.
To try to make a risk assessment for the use of these GMOs, it is necessary to consider that, for example, the insect-resistant corn plant does not have this modification on the mere seed, and with the soybean or canola seeds with more fatty acids 'beneficial to health' we are initially concerned about the oil for human consumption obtained from pressing the seed at crushing.
We must not lose sight of the fact that one way to increase the value of crops is using by-products of the field/industry in animal feed, for example, fodder, silage, and oilseed paste/meal such as soybeans, canola, and cotton, even if they are of GMO origin.
The different forms of food processing (silage, pressing, cooking, drying) of plant ingredients (grains, vegetative parts, and tubers) require a form of processing and these practices involve a physical and/or chemical effect with and without the application of heat.
Industrial processing (pelleting, extruding, cooking) has the purpose of making nutrients available to the animal and this involves somehow changing the chemical forms of nutrients because of heat applied.
Some animals can consume raw vegetables (leaves, stems, roots) directly -ruminants- because they can further transform their food with the action of rumen flora.
When the presuming damaging factor from the outside is presented, the vegetable genetic payload responds and when in the instance an insect wants to eat it or the presence of chemical that wants to destroy it (stem, leaves, roots), the tissue cell produces the protein indicated as a defense, and thus then the plant survives without damage until the fruit or seed that interests the human being for the harvest matures ready to crop.
Thus, we have as a measurable result by the presence of the external gene, a change in the characterizable proportion of proteins in plant tissue.
Animal nutrition is based on amino acids, the basic unit of structure in proteins.
The processes of elaboration, transforming and the whole digestive process is catabolic -to simplify, break, separate- the components in their units; Thus, proteins are taken to be amino acids, carbohydrates to glucose and so on among other processes.
It is from amino acids that the animal deposits protein – anabolism or build-up – in the form of meat, milk, eggs, muscle growth or gestation..
Of the modified DNA and related proteins, nothing enters the metabolism: the result from catabolism plus anabolism.
With the proper formulation of the feed, any alteration of the components of the feed must be taken into account to cover the nutrient requirements of the animal.
So far, although trace amounts of the modified DNA have been detected in leaves, stems, silage, seeds, food, serum, rumen flora, intestinal contents, feces, waste, soil and water where GMOs have been used, this evidence has not been found in meat, milk and eggs for human consumption and more is to be discussed.
Therefore, we can rely on the safety of using GMOs in the proper processing of the vegetable, the precise definition of the ingredient content and the meticulous nutrient formulation of feed.
With GMOs it is not that, by their use, beans will grow in the ears of the animal or make human immune to the bite of mosquitoes, our DNA is unique and different from any species.
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