herd of young piglet on hay and straw at pig breeding farm

From the day that Danish pig farmer Ib Borup Pederson switched away from GM soy, his animals became healthier and more productive. Birth deformities reduced, sows became more fertile, medicine costs fell, and profits went up. The changes were linked to the reduction in the levels of the herbicide glyphosate in their feed.

by Ib Borup Pederson
The Ecologist


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’ – which translates as ‘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.

I had read about the effects that GM feed has on rats in lab experiments (see [1] 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.

Instant benefits from non-GMO soy

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 using two thirds less medicine, saving £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%. One type of antibiotic has not been used since.

The sows have higher milk production; we can tell because the sows are suckling one, two or three more piglets and have more live born pigs, on average 1.8 piglets more per sow. They wean 1,8 pigs more per litter, and have more live born pigs.

We have seen an aggressive form of diarrhoea disappear altogether from the farm. It affected young piglets in the first week of life, killing up to 30% of the animals. It has completely gone now for over three years.

Sows no longer suffer from bloating or ulcers and they have longer productive lives, only dropping in fertility after eight litters 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.

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