GM content a threat to market: farmer / GM milk anger (7/6/2007)

1.GM content a threat to market: farmer


1.[GM] Content a threat to market: farmer
ALEX JOHNSON The Standard, June 7 2007

A CONCERNED farmer said the future of Australia's dairy industry depended on whether farmers rejected genetically modified cattle feed.

The Network of Concerned Farmers spokesman Geoffrey Carracher, who runs an irrigation property near Minimay growing white clover seed, called on dairy farmers not to use GM cotton to feed their cattle.

The network is funded by a number of farmers and local councils, including West Wimmera Shire.

"The world is our market for Australia at the moment," Mr Carracher said.

"With the introduction of GMs into Australia, our opportunities throughout the world will be reduced.

"New Zealand will pick up our milk market if we do it."

"There has been no testing of GM crops against non-GM crops so we don't know what their comparisons are, their yields (or) their agronomy."

He said the crops, modified to be resistant to pests and diseases, might not bring the benefits some farmers expect.

"They're set up for corporate profits, not farmers' profits."


The Standard, June 7 2007

[image caption: The beauty of canola fields in bloom do little to mask fears over genetically modified plants being fed to dairy cows.]

MILK is being produced on south-west Victorian dairy farms using genetically modified feeds without the public's knowledge. Now consumers are demanding to know more.

The Standard can reveal that a range of feeds with a GM content have been used on the region's farms.

Feeds with GM content include cottonseed meal, soybean and canola meal. Consumers are concerned about the impact on milk and a lack of clear labelling. Studies found no impact on foods generated from GM-fed livestock or GM crops.

Member for Western Province John Vogels said dairy factories should admit "the GM genie is long gone".

Mr Vogels said it was time to scrap Victoria's moratorium on GM crops and ensure proper risk assessments were in place.

He said south-west dairy farmers were using GM cottonseed to produce milk and other farmers were using GM canola and soymeal in cattle rations.

"If 90 per cent of cotton grown is GM and I've seen farmers feeding cottonseed to their dairy cows, then the (GM) genie is long out of the bottle," Mr Vogels said.

Mr Vogels' comments come as the Network of Concerned Farmers starts a media campaign against feeding genetically modified crops in animals' feed.

Anti-GM campaigner and director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research Dr Judy Carman said it was a `"big leap in logic to open up the doors" because farmers were already feeding GM feed to their cattle.

"If it was widely known that there was a milk company in Australia that was getting milk from cows being fed GM feeds I think you would find consumers would switch brands.

"There would be some concern - it is just that they (consumers) don't know."

Dr Carman said there had been no long-term testing on livestock fed GM feeds, consumers eating GM foods or meat grown with GM feeds. There was inadequate crop segregation, product labelling and knowledge of contamination levels to protect consumers'

interests and cottonseed oil did not have to be labelled as a GM product in Australia, she said.

Anti-GM dairy farmer in Dixie, Andrea Balcombe, has decided not to give potentially GM feeds to her cows. She said labelling laws meant consumers were not able to choose non-GM over GM products.

Mr Vogels said despite the "scare campaign" of the organics industry and anti-GM protesters, he did not believe consumers should be concerned about feeding GM feed to livestock. Research had shown there were no ill effects from people consuming GM foods, he said.

The "hypocrisy" of the State Government's moratorium on commercial GM crops was exposed by the use of cottonseed oil in vegetable oil formulations for cooking, Mr Vogels said. About a third of vegetable oil is made from cottonseed, he said.

A spokesperson for Victorian Agriculture Minister Joe Helper said industry sectors could take their own steps to prevent farmers using GM feedstocks.

"That a small amount of GM feedstocks are used for stock has relatively little bearing on the forthcoming review of the moratorium on GM canola," the minister's spokesperson said.


See also: Renyard happy with seed input

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