Redman sceptical on GM study

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Adelaide-based researcher Judy Carman has submitted her study on feeding animals genetically modified crops to a scientific journal for review.

The independent study was commissioned by former WA Agriculture Minister Kim Chance in 2007, during the moratorium on GM crops.

Dr Carman told Countryman it was the first independent animal feed study in Australia but the findings could not be reported until published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The former senior epidemiologist with the South Australian Health Department has long questioned the safety of eating genetically modified food and said labelling was needed to give consumers choice and so health effects can be investigated.

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At present, all GM foods intended for sale in Australia have to undergo a safety evaluation by Food Standards Australia New Zealand but this doesn’t always include animal feeding studies.

“There need to be long-term animal feeding studies to thoroughly assess the ability of the crops to cause allergies, reproductive problems, toxic effects and cancer,” Dr Carman said.

“The animals need to have thorough autopsies done where blood and organs are taken and analysed to see if the GM crop has caused any harm. At present, most of the industry studies just look at whether animals live or die and this isn’t good enough.”

Agriculture Minister Terry Redman said he hadn’t heard a recent response from Dr Carman. He has asked the Department of Agriculture and Food to stay in contact with her.

“The issue here is around accountability — State accountability for tax payers’ money that was issued in 2007.”

“I haven’t seen anything to suggest there is a final report or a study being published anywhere or been written and therefore I can only say at this stage there is $92,000 of taxpayer funds that was spent in 2007 where they (Labor) haven’t got any level of accountability of where it went.”

Mr Redman said he would continue to pursue the matter for public accountability.

In the European Union, traceability through the supply chain is creating business opportunities.

Jochen Koester from AgroTrace, a Swiss-based importer and distributor of non-GM soy meal, said his clients included feed compounders serving the Scandinavian aquafeed industry and the dairy industry in Germany.

AgroTrace sources soy meal from Brazil with less than 0.1 per cent genetically modified soy.

It’s analysed by Cert ID who audited over five million tons of Brazilian soy meal last year.

“Demand for non-GM compound feed is clearly on the rise but not in every EU country, for example Spain or Portugal. The countries leading the way are Germany, France and Austria,” Mr Koester said.

“The issue of traceability is needed for both GM and non-GM material because the world is becoming more and more complex.”

Mr Koester said residuals and green food safety were among the reasons but more so, the need to trace specific cargoes in case of contamination or health issues, saving time and money if entire shipments or harvests have to be recalled.

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