Healthier, more productive pigs, more profit, and much less birth deformities; an important lesson for all farmers not to use GMO feed or glyphosate on their land Ib Borup Pederson
Based on invited lecture at the 1st Forum of Development and Environmental Safety, under the theme “Food Safety and Sustainable Agriculture 2014”, 25 - 26 July 2014, Beijing
I want to tell you what I have seen on my farm and about the on-farm and lab investigations carried out in collaboration with Professor Monika Krüger and other scientists.
My farm “Pilegaarden” (Willow Farm) is an average Danish farm in the small village of Hvidsten. Our pigs are raised accordingly to United Kingdom regulations for pig housing, and exported to the UK for consumption. Inside the pig farm is a straw-based system for the sows as well as a standard farrowing house.
“Pilegaarden” (Willow Farm)
I had read about the effects that GM feed has on rats in lab experiments (see  GM Soya Fed Rats: Stunted, Dead, or Sterile, SiS 33), so I decided to change the feed from GM to non-GM soy in April 2011 without telling the herdsman on the farm. Two days afterwards, he said to me: “You have changed the food.” He always notices whenever there is any problem with the feed and tells me. This time was different. Something very good was happening with the food as the pigs were not getting diarrhoea any more. The farm was saving 2/3 of the medicine or £7.88 per sow; not just my farm but three other farms in Denmark that switched from GMO to non GMO feed have also seen the same. Medication after the changeover in the weaners barn also went down dramatically by 66 %, with one type of antibiotics not being used since.
The sows have higher milk production; we can tell because the sows are suckling 1, 2 or 3 more piglets and have more live born pigs, on average 1.8 piglets more per sow. They wean 1,8 pigs more pr. litter, and have more live born pigs. We have seen a certain aggressive diarrhoea disappear altogether that affected young piglets in the first week of life, killing up to 30 % of the pigs. It has completely gone for over 3 years. Sows no longer suffer from bloating or ulcers and they also live longer in high production, only dropping in effectivity after 8 layers compared to 6 on GM soy.
So, a change to non-GM soy makes the herd easier to manage, improves the health of the herd, reduces medicine usage, increases production and is very profitable.
Deformities in the pigs used to be very rare and I used to be proud to send Siamese twins to schools for classes because it would only happen one in a million. But then they became too frequent. So I read a lot on the subject and my suspicion fell on glyphosate. I read how glyphosate had been shown in scientific studies (see  Lab Study Establishes Glyphosate Link to Birth Defects, SiS 48, ) to cause deformities and noted it was the same type of deformities that I was seeing in my pigs, and the same as those found in anencephaly babies in Washington counties in US  that Don Huber talked about as well as the birth defects in Argentina [5, 6] (Argentinas Roundup Human Tragedy , SiS 48) as described by Dr Medardo Avila-Vasquez where high levels of glyphosate are used. I had looked at studies showing that a 2-day exposure to 3.07 mg/l glyphosate herbicide caused only 10 % mortality but caused malformations in 55 % of test animals . A toxicological study in 2003 led by Dr Dallegrave  found bone abnormalities, absence of bones or parts of bones, shortened and bent bones, asymmetry, fusions, and clefts in rats. So, after this I began to list all the deformities I saw in my pigs.
I decided to be on the safe side, by listing the clear deformities that cannot be missed, like a back that is totally kinked over (see Figure 1). I have pictures of all the deformed piglets, which are born alive in most cases. One had a 180° bend in one of its vertebra. There were also deformities in the soft tissue, and one without an anus. One had kidney problems; another had its stomach outside the body. One had a cranial deformity, with no eyes and its brain outside the head; this is very typical. One had no cranium at all. Some are even messier. There was a piglet with only one eye, and one completely headless. There was a little nose, but it had no bones to grow on so it probably would have died just after birth. We also started counting deformities of the tail, which are never fatal but are actually spinal deformities.
I sent the deformed piglets to Germany to be analysed by Krüger at Leipzig University. She opened them up and took the organs including the lungs, liver, kidneys, muscles, nervous system, intestines and heart; and she found glyphosate in all of the organs (see Box). You can see some of them in the scientific paper I published with Krüger and other scientists .
Figure 1 List of documented deformities observed (with Chinese translations) in piglets born to sows fed a diet containing different amounts of glyphosate. Glyphosate is present in all animal feed (except organic) due to the indiscriminate use of Roundup pre-seeding, or as desiccant; manure has Roundup residues in it and is recycled in the feed.
A total of 38 deformed Danish one-day old piglets were euthanized and the tissues analysed for glyphosate using ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). All organs or tissues had glyphosate in different concentrations. The highest concentrations were seen in the lungs ((0.4-80mg/ml) and heart (0.15-80 mg/ml); the lowest in muscles (4.4-6.4 mg/g).
Rate of malformation increased to one out of 260 born piglets if sow feeds contain 0.87-1.13 ppm glyphosate in the first 40 days of pregnancy. In case of 0.25 ppm glyphosate one out of 1 432 piglets was malformed. These piglets showed different abnormalities as ear atrophy, spinal and cranial deformations, cranium hole in head and leg atrophy; in one piglet only a single large eye developed. Piglets without trunk, with elephant tongue, and female piglet with testes were also present. One malformed piglet showed a swollen belly and fore gut and hind gut were not connected.
The researchers note: “Further investigations are urgently needed to prove or exclude glyphosate in malformations in piglets and other animals.”
In addition to these experiments, I had over 30 000 piglets born over 2 years and therefore have statistical data that are not easily available in the lab and this is where farmers have the ideal opportunity to do their own testing. I tested the food, the foetuses, the urine and the grains that came into the farm. To do the tests, take representing samples from the batches of food, mix them, and take 100 grams in a plastic bag of each to be tested, or 100 ml of liquids. When taking muck and urine for testing, you need patience; blood tests can be done by a vet. Send it for analyses to a lab that has the facilities to test glyphosate down to about 0.1ppb = 0.1 milligram per tonne. If tests are only detecting at above 0.1ppm = 0.1 grams per ton, it cannot show you what is in urine and muck. It costs about £30-50 for one test. Tests in oils might not be possible; you need to ask beforehand.
The results of the tests showed that with 0.06 mg/kg of glyphosate residue in the feed - much lower than the allowed 20 mg/kg - I was getting cranial and spinal deformities after 2 months of feeding (see figure 2). At 0.1 mg/kg I was also getting deformities, but not many so that one pig could alter the numbers. But, at 0.2 mg/kg the deformities start to go up. At the maximum of 2.26 mg/kg the numbers start to get very high.
Figure 2 Rates of cranial and spinal deformities in pigs fed increasing levels of glyphosate in feed
I also got help from Thomas Böhn from Norway who told me to look at longer intervals. We got numbers after 6 months to see an accumulative effect. The story is exactly the same. There is a very clear difference between low and high levels of glyphosate. We also looked at the numbers of pigs born, which was significantly less after eating food with higher levels of glyphosate (see figure 3) with a significant difference of 1 less pig born per sow between low levels of glyphosate in feed accumulative intake over a 35 days period (<3 mg/kg body weight) and high levels (3-9 mg/kg body weight), consumed just in the last 5 weeks of pregnancy. So we have less born as well as the odd ones that are deformed.
In short, the differences we saw with having 5 times difference in glyphosate levels from 0.2 to 1 part per million (ppm) was a 5 times increase in cranial and spinal deformities at birth, as well as 5 times more abortions as well as 0.95 less piglets born per litter.
We can also relate the actual levels of glyphosate in feed to the level in the urine. So for
1 132 ppb (or 1.13 ppm), there is 44 ppb (~ 4 %) in the urine and 246.33 ppb (~22 %) in dung. When I tested my own urine, I found that I had 2.58 ppb and that is not from eating GM contaminated feed but from eating normal food from the Danish shops. This is already at the level of higher rates of abortions and deformities and probably also fertility problems. Is this why in the Western world we have a very big problem with fertility (see  Glyphosate/Roundup and Human Male Infertility, SiS 62)? And at 1000 ppb, glyphosate is patented by Monsanto as an antibiotic, actually killing the beneficial microorganisms. At 0.1 ppb (less than 1/25 the level measured in my urine) Roundup caused tumours in 80% of rats compared to 20 % in the controls , which only developed them at 700 days. To have that high level of glyphosate in my urine, I must have consumed at the level of about 0.2ppm or 2000 times more than the test rats. So what does that mean for the rates of cancer (see  Glyphosate and Cancer, SiS 62)?
Figure 3 Rates of liveborn per sow after consuming low and high levels of glyphosate in feed in last 5 weeks of pregnancy; the amount of glyphosate is the total summed over the last 5 weeks
I have a short film about how it is to be a farmer, I always feel very bad about my pigs getting ill so I leave the film for people to see. These same things must be happening in Chinese farms also, as they are using the same feed as I used to. Even non-GM soya contains glyphosate and we as farmers need to demand that it is not sprayed down with glyphosate because it can affect people as well as pigs.
Any farmer who switches away from GMOs and Roundup will experience improved health in their herd and crops. What I have seen in my pigs, knowing about the scientific studies on malformations due to the chemical Roundup and the fact that 1/80 people in certain towns in Argentina have the same defects after being exposed to the chemical and the fact that I know of 14 Danish people born with deformities of the same type makes me wonder what we are doing. And it scares me. A farmer’s task is to provide nutritious and healthy food for consumers, GMOs and Roundup provide neither. Thinking about DDT and how we thought that was healthy , that should reminds us that we cannot ignore the warning signs for glyphosate.
Article first published 10/09/14
Got something to say about this page? Comment
There are 15 comments on this article so far. Add your comment above.
Rory Short Comment left 11th September 2014 02:02:48
It is very frightening but in a sense these problems are just indicative of a deeper structural malaise within society. The problem, as I see it, is that we, as societies, allow individuals and organisations to market products that they develop before the products have been properly assessed for their environmental safety. As a consequence society becomes totally dependent on self-selected assessors, if any emerge, whilst purveyors of the product use their financial muscle to obfuscate any of the assessors' negative findings and we all lose out.
Dr. Michael Godfrey Comment left 11th September 2014 03:03:42
This is real evidence-based research performed at the primary level by an observant and caring farmer. He is to be congratulated as well as ISIS for getting this information out.
Rosemarie Mart Comment left 11th September 2014 03:03:36
The really frightening aspect lies with the fact that purveyors use their financial and political muscle so successfully that, unless one subscribes to ISIS or takes the time to research deeply into the issue, one assumes that commercial food for humans and for animals is safe food. To take the time to look deeply, one has to have already acquired a high index of suspicion but even then, the preponderance of 'authoritative' sites will insist that GM food and herbicide-treated food are safe. Hence, the problem is not so much social malaise; the problem is complete lack of information.
Todd Millions Comment left 11th September 2014 16:04:02
Looks like a well run set up Mr.Pederson.Thanx for the documentation-well done.Any plans to follow up on Bt mods contaminated feeds?Such trials would be very useful given NONE were done when starlink was withdrawn in 2002 due to toxicity-after the pollen drift had contaminated all N.Americian corn stocks.You should save one of your boars,A new NATO head is to be chosen.Having a non defective Danish pig,not contaminated by monsanto would be an interesting change!(wry).
Eric Davis Comment left 11th September 2014 16:04:47
This might seem a little off the wall or off topic anyway ... But after one learns Danish how wud one move to Denmark? Just curious and I LOVE your country!!!
Pamela Jarvis Comment left 11th September 2014 16:04:36
I do not understand why we are in this awful mess to begin with. When did we stop testing and give a green light to glyphosate for our food source? You can take what the pigs are experiencing and relate to humans. Why are they putting it in our food? Why are we cramming it down poor countries throats? It disgusts me. When countries like China and Russia ban GMO's where does it go? I would not be surprised if we end up eating it. What do you have to say about that Kelloggs Cereal Co?
Rob Comment left 11th September 2014 16:04:26
It's great to see this farmer waking up. I am however a little surprised that he didn't notice the reverse effects initially when he switched from Non-GMO to GMO?!?
Eric Schneider Comment left 11th September 2014 16:04:10
This is an important testimonial. It will of course be much challenged. THE KEY I think would be to check and SHOW that this is happening for more than one, but in 10 danish pig farms. Theoretically, also without studies they shd definetily be able to TELL that they have a high number of deformities. Or might this even be documented by institutions where dead pigs are sent for incineration?
Jennifer Symonds Comment left 11th September 2014 19:07:17
If GMOs & glyphosates have these horrible effects on animals then it would also follow that (over a couple of generations) the same would be true of humans. Another really good reason for avoiding GMOs &c. To be safe I go for certified organic food.
Steve Parker Comment left 11th September 2014 20:08:20
How many in the agricultural industry are aware of any problems with glyphosate? Very, very few in my experience. In fact, only last week I was treated with some bemusement for refusing to use roundup because of my concerns. Most farmers and gardeners think that roundup is the best thing ever and liberally spray it on anything and everything. 99% of the population either don't know, don't want to know or don't care......unless they suffer of course.
Paula H Comment left 11th September 2014 22:10:36
My uncle is a Veterinarian in Canada while on a visit to his farm I had a discussion about GMO's with him. He told me I was wrong, they are a fabulous thing, they increase yields and so forth, he pointed to a field where he was growing GMO beans. Claimed Glyphosate biodegrades from the soil after 30 days.. Anytime I see him, I see 2 heads. I will bring it up again when I visit this fall
Paulette Ganschow Comment left 12th September 2014 04:04:55
This article brings home the reality of GMOs and glyphosate in a way that is understandable by nearly everyone It is truly horrifying and it needs to be shared with as many people as possible who hopefully will, in turn, share it with others.
Peter Kindersley Comment left 15th September 2014 02:02:39
Dear all, what do you make of this recent study from the USA? Prevalence and impacts of genetically engineered feedstuffs on livestock populations http://bit.ly/1oyJgtA These field data sets representing over 100 billion animals following the introduction of GE crops did not reveal unfavorable or perturbed trends in livestock health and productivity. No study has revealed any differences in the nutritional profile of animal products derived from GE-fed animals. How is it that there is such a difference in you results and these? I am anti GM campaigner but I am mystified by these so called results.
Ib Borup Pedersen Comment left 15th September 2014 21:09:13
I am commenting on Bob´s comment. Bob wrote: It's great to see this farmer waking up. I am however a little surprised that he didn't notice the reverse effects initially when he switched from Non-GMO to GMO?!? To that my reply is: In the early days of GMO's the soy we got to Europe got gradually more and more polluted by GM soy, it has never been a sharp switch to GMO soy. Another thing is that in GMO soy there is as I see it at least two different problems, the one is the gene modification in itself, that can easily be the reason for new allergies and inflammations in the stomach etc. like shown in The Carman / Wlieger study on pigs. but most of the damage is likely to be due to the presence of Roundup residues in the feed, as my research shows there is a clear connection between Glyphosate levels in the feed, and fertility problems, abortions, and deformities born, on top of all the Clostridia related sicknesses in the pigs, like bloat, and the sertain type of diarrhea that kills a lot of pigs in the first days of life. A type we have not seen since the changeover in 2011. These illnesses are caused by Clostridia bacteria’s, and science tells us that Glyphosate is a patented antibiotic by Monsanto : file:///C:/Users/Bruger/Documents/GMO%20scientific%20facts/United%20States%20Patent%20%207771736.htm By only 1Gram/ton = 1ppm it is patented as an antibiotic, Prof. Monika Krüger has in a study shown that at 0,1ppm in feed, Glyphosate kills the lactic acid bacteria’s, that from nature has a controlling effect on Clostridia, and therefore leaves clostridia to fill out the gaps, and the clostridia related illnesses flourish. It has not from the start been easy to see the transformation in animal health, as GMO’s got from only a few % to near 100 % of the soy over a matter of years, and with resistant weeds the Roundup applications got higher over years, the most I have heard is from Argentina (were Denmark imports a good deal of soy from) where some fields receive up to 40 L of Roundup / year. That gives immensely high levels of Roundup-residues soy, and in the feed, all this has come sneaking from year to year, and as a farmer always has a challenge from nature keeping his herd healthy, most farmers are not aware that these “NEW” challenges might come from what he buy in, or what he is spraying on his fields. And if he asks the wet or pig advisor, they haven’t been educated to see the whole picture, but only to treat symptoms, so only a few brainy ones will tell the farmer that it might have to do with what feed he feeds the animals. And a very few of them goes one step further and advise not to use GMO’s or Roundup sprayed grains, I only know of a handful in the whole world! However in 1990 this paper was made from the Danish Pig research station, a study in effects of Glyphosate sprayed grains –v non sprayed grains fed to pigs, Monsanto “helped” make the study, so nothing serious was mentioned in the summery, that is in English, but in fact they had seen ALL the same effects that has been seen in my pig house, Whole litters died of diarrhea, Pigs was born with “Shaking sickness”, one farrowed all week pigs that all died, there were more fertility problems and abortions, more piglets dye etc. all in the Roundup Groups. The study did also look at Cerone (a straw shortening agent) sprayed Grains. See the study here, it don’t make much sense unless you know Danish, and certainly you cannot go by the summery: http://web.agrsci.dk/pub/sh_beretning_677.pdf The same Danish university that made the study in 1990 has looked at my findings, and this is the conclution, I am mentioned in the last part, but it all came on because of my pig observations, and I am proud that the conclution is that all the things I have seen in My pig house can be explained by the Glyphosate residues in the feed! See this link in English: http://dca.au.dk/fileadmin/DJF/Notat_gmofoder__uk_version_Memorandum_on_The_feeding_of_genetically_modified_glyphosate_
The scientific paper from my deformed pigs:http://omicsonline.org/open-access/detection-of-glyphosate-in-malformed-piglets-2161-0525.1000230.pdf
No Roundup Boy Comment left 8th December 2014 19:07:54
Thank you so much for sharing this. I hope that it will be distributed widely. In the United States, it seems as if we are daily assured that GMOs and its deadly train of "inputs" are not only safe, but are the most advanced technology imaginable. Tens of millions (or is it hundreds of millions?) of dollars have been spent by the GMO Mafia to convince the American People to vote against their own interests. The current state of affairs is beyond surreal: the American GMO/chemical/"agricultural industry spends tens of millions of dollars to prevent full disclosure of their own products!