Studying the effects of genetically modified (GM) grain on pigs, Australian researchers have found significant inflammation in the pigs' stomachs, which they believe has ties to the GM feed.

The debate over genetically modified foods has garnered substantial mainstream attention in recent months, fueling a conversation over whether agriculture businesses should continue the lucrative process.

Compounding this discussion, Australian researchers worked with two veterinarians and a farmer in Iowa to study the U.S. pigs. Lead researcher Judy Carman works as an epidemiologist, biologist, and director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Adelaide, Australia.

Carman and her team studied 168 newly weaned pigs over the course of 22.7 weeks in a commercial U.S. piggery. Half the group received genetically modified corn and soy, while the other half received a non-GM equivalent. After five months the pigs were slaughtered and brought to veterinarians who had no knowledge of which group received the GM diet.

Upon examination, the doctors concluded the pigs on the GM diet had significantly higher rates of stomach inflammation — 32 percent, compared to 12 percent in non-GM diet pigs — and that the severity of the inflammation was worse as well, by a factor of 4.0 in males and 2.2 in females. Pigs fed the GM grain also had 25 percent larger uteri than non-GM diet pigs.

"Researchers said there were no differences seen between pigs fed the GM and non-GM diets for feed intake, weight gain, mortality, and routine blood biochemistry measurements," Reuters reports.

CropLife International, a global federation representing the plant science industry, stated more than 150 studies have been done on the health risks of animals fed biotech seeds and GM foods, and so far none of the studies have yielded scientifically dangerous results.

Biotech seeds are genetically engineered to better resist pests when growing, allowing farmers to more easily grow their crops. Critics of the process say biotech seeds can lead to digestive problems in humans and animals.

Carman and her team said that, despite their findings, more long-term animal feed testing needs to be done.