"The use of this [85% GM] feed does not compromise the absolute GM-free status of livestock or livestock products," Ingham's managing director said.
GM feed or not, animals all the same
New Zealand News
About 17 anti-genetic engineering protesters tried to shut down an Ingham's chicken factory in Hamilton this morning.
Two protesters dressed in chicken suits climbed to the top of two 6m high tripods, blocking the factory's main gates. Others guarded the tripods, stopping vehicles coming into or leaving the site.
Meanwhile, three more protesters snuck on to the site and climbed to the top of one of the giant grain silos where they unfurled a banner saying "GE feed, not wanted".
Police arrived half an hour after the protest began at 10.30am, but made no arrests.
Sergeant Nick Young said police were assessing the situation.
Greenpeace claims Ingham's use of GM soy to feed its chickens causes a potential health hazard.
Activists obtained a sample of soy used by Ingham's to feed its chickens and sent it to scientists at AgriQuality for testing. The soy tested 85 percent positive for genetic modification.
Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel said not enough was known about the possible health effects of animals eating GE feed for it to be safe. Mr Abel spoke to Ingham's managing director Mike Rozen by phone from the protest and told him the protesters would not leave until Ingham's made a commitment not to use GM soy.
Mr Abel said Mr Rozen refused, saying the protest was preventing chickens from being fed. Mr Abel said Greenpeace had been told the welfare of chickens without feed would not be affected for up to 24 hours, but because it did not want to put them at riskn the protest would end later today.
Mr Rozen refused to comment directly to the media this morning, instead issuing a statement through Ingham's public relations company, NBPR.
In it, Mr Rozen confirmed his company used feed that had been genetically modified. But Ingham's, together with its subsidiary Harvey Farms, met all government requirements regarding the use of animal feed which contained genetically modified ingredients, the statement said.
"The use of this feed does not compromise the absolute GM-free status of livestock or livestock products," Mr Rozen said. "No commercial supplier in Australasia is in a legally sound position to claim their feed is GM-free. This is neither practical nor commercially sustainable."
The soymeal is sourced from South America and the United States.
It was not cost effective to make poultry feed without GM-free soymeal, Mr Rozen said.
"Animals that eat food with a component of GM soymeal are no different to alternative animals that may have been fed a low-GM or GM-free diet. There is no DNA present in the animal tissues or milk products.
"Ingham's and Harvey Farms customers can be assured that our products conform with all government regulations and quarantine standards," Mr Rozen said.
"In no way do they compromise the quality or GM-free status of livestock or livestock product."
NBPR public relations account manager Andrew Stokes said Ingham's needed to make deliveries of feed to farms today to ensure chickens didn't go without feed.
One of Ingham's greatest concerns was for the welfare and safety of their employees during the protest by Greenpeace.
Source: Waikato Times, via Newsquest, 9 September 2003
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