Monsanto Protection Act: What it Means for Pet Food

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The new Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 contains a controversial provision that could affect what goes into our pets’ foods, and our own.

Called the “Monsanto Protection Act” by its opponents, and officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, the provision has been getting a lot of attention since President Obama signed the bill last week. So what does it mean?

Large biotech companies such as Monsanto produce GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and GE seeds (genetically engineered seeds) and sell them to farmers throughout the country. Crops harvested from these farms turn up in plenty of foods for both humans and pets. The Bill effectively protects these biotech companies from federal courts should any evidence come to light about negative health side effects to the crops.

Read more about GMO Food Crops in Pet Food.

International Business Times writes, “many anti-GMO folks argue there have not been enough studies into the potential health risks of this new class of crop. Well, now it appears that even if those studies are completed and they end up revealing severe adverse health effects related to the consumption of genetically modified foods, the courts will have no ability to stop the spread of the seeds and the crops they bear.”

What Does This Mean for Pet Food?

Some veterinarians believe that GMOs in pet foods can be linked to cases of allergies, asthma, dermatitis, and digestive problems in cats and dogs. Dr. Michael W. Fox and Dr. Judy Jasek, DVM allow that increases in these issues in pets seem to have increased with the use of GMOs in pet foods. According to Dog Food Advisor, a GMO preservative called ethoxyquin can be linked to birth defects, liver failure, and even cancer in pets.

The good news is that the bill will expire in 6 months, and in order for Monsanto and other biotech companies to continue to enjoy this protection, a similar provision will have to be passed again. Organizations like Food Democracy Now will try to keep that from happening, though some people fear that the precedent has already been set.

What Can I Do to Avoid Buying GMO-Containing Pet Foods?

Tracking down where ingredients come from can be a tricky business, but a little extra time will usually get you to the truth. When you’re buying a pet food, GMO ingredients probably won’t be called out as such, but you can use other methods to find GMO-free foods. If you’re concerned about keeping GMOs out of your pet’s food, here’s what you can do:

  • Buy foods labeled organic
  • Avoid soybeans, canola, cottonseed, corn, and sugar from sugar beets as these crops can have a high prevalence of GMO
  • Buy products that are labeled as GMO free
  • Contact the manufacturer if you’re unsure
  • Prepare your pet’s food yourself at home**

**If you do decide to feed your pet homemade food, be sure to consult a veterinarian or board-certified veterinary nutritionist, so that you create a balanced diet for your pet. Dietary insufficiencies from home-prepared pet foods can result in health problems.