Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Concern at implication of GM feed for milk industry

25 August, 2005

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has voiced concerns about the implications of the introduction of GM feed into the food chain of dairy herds for the quality and saleability of local milk.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Sinn Féin are concerned that given recent developments in Europe about GM animal feed being used and the possible long term implications for the industry and consumers reaction, particularly in relation to Milk.

"The structure if the Six County Milk industry means that currently 15% of the Milk in the North goes into bottles while the rest 85% goes for manufacturing. One of the main structural issues with dairy farming in the north is that our population is not large enough to consume the vast amount of milk produced here. If meal companies begin to import the GM maize to input into animal feed we are on a dangerous and slippery slope.

"The reality is that there is a very real risk of contamination of the food chain. Across Ireland and throughout Europe consumers have consistently rejected food that is genetically modified. The result is that there are very few GM labelled products on the market. Indeed many companies make a point of labelling food GM free.

"However, there is a loophole in EU labelling regulations. Milk, eggs, meat and other animal-derived foodstuffs do not need to be labelled if the animals were fed GM foodstuffs. The majority GM maize grown in Europe is used as animal feed, meaning that consumers could unknowingly consume GM derived products, such as milk.

"Through advertising their products as pure and natural, they are misleading their consumers as their products risk being contaminated from the GM crops grown by their dairy farmers.

"But this is not the case across the board. Food manufacturers have ensured that GM animal feed is not used in Switzerland and Sweden. In Austria, the large dairy company, NOEM AG, ensured its entire range of fresh milk products are GM free.

"Despite the debate about the of Monsanto's GM maize (MON 810) still ongoing, the European Commission gave approval for the GM maize to be grown in the EU in 2004. As a result the Austria, Greece, Hungary and Poland all have banned the maize. This is currently the only GM plant permitted to be grown throughout the EU although other GM maize and GE Soya varieties, cultivated outside the EU, are authorised for import as animal feed.

"Sinn Féin believe that the Milk industry, as well as those producing eggs and other livestock for the market, needs to take a stand on this issue and take steps to ensure that it is not using GM meal feed. There is a valuable competitive edge to be gained in producing foods for market that are genuinely GM free. We will also be working to ensure that the legal loophole that allows for the introduction of GM products into our food chain is closed." ENDS

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