Australia planning to produce GMO milk24/06/2014 19:49
Source: Hang The Bankers
A plan to feed Australian dairy cows genetically modified rye grass designed to boost milk production has sparked concerns from both organic and non-organic farmers.
Opponents of the scheme fear that GM grasses could contaminate neighbouring properties and that existing labelling requirements would not allow consumers to identify products made from cows fed on the modified rye.
Greg Paynter, of the Organic Federation of Australia, said the role of GM grasses in the food chain was “a sleeping giant”.
“We’ll have humans consuming milk from cows that have been consuming genetically modified material. We just don’t know what effects we might have to deal with in the future.
“They’re talking about scientific testing but the natural processes and ecosystems have been tested over 3 billion years.”
Ben Copeman, general manager of the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia, said while organic producers had to follow strict labelling requirements, the same rules did not apply to products with GM crops in their food chain, potentially leaving consumers unaware. Mr Copeman also said many of Australia’s important grain customers, such as Japan, China and Korea, did not want GM in their food chains and had zero tolerance to GM contamination.
While GM rye is unlikely to be available until 2020, a long-term research project into the potential benefits of the grass has moved to its next stage, including looking at regulatory requirements, after more than six years spent developing new varieties of pasture.
News of the work at the Dairy Futures Co-operative Research Centre follows controversy over a landmark WA Supreme Court ruling in May, that dismissed an organic farmer’s claim that his land had been contaminated by GM canola grown by his neighbour, a conventional farmer.