Model studies on the detectability of genetically modified feeds in milk.
Detecting the use of genetically modified feeds in milk has become important, because the voluntary labeling of milk and dairy products as "GMO free" or as "organically grown" prohibits the employment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The aim of this work was to investigate whether a DNA transfer from foodstuffs like soya and maize was analytically detectable in cow's milk after digestion and transportation via the bloodstream of dairy cows and, thus, whether milk could report for the employment of transgene feeds. Blood, milk, urine, and feces of dairy cows were examined, and foreign DNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction by specifically amplifying a 226-bp fragment of the maize invertase gene and a 118-bp fragment of the soya lectin gene. An intravenous application of purified plant DNA showed a fast elimination of marker DNA in blood or its reduction below the detection limit. With feeding experiments, it could be demonstrated that a specific DNA transfer from feeds into milk was not detectable. Therefore, foreign DNA in milk cannot serve as an indicator for the employment of transgene feeds unless milk is directly contaminated with feed components or airborne feed particles.