19 Oct 2012

Minister downplays import of GE stock feed

3:14 pm on 19 October 2012

Green Party MP Steffan Browning says Fonterra needs to come clean about how much GE feed is brought in, after reports that there have been big increases in genetically engineered cotton seed meal and soy being imported to feed dairy cows.

Dairy co-operative Fonterra and industry body Dairy NZ say supplementary feed is a small part of the overall diet of dairy cows and that imported GE products would make up only a tiny part of that.

Fonterra says the possibility of some cows being fed GE-based supplements does not impact on the status of the milk, and doesn't require a change to the labelling requirements under New Zealand, Australian and European Union regulations.

Mr Carter says it's not an issue for him, either. "The main supplementary feed that comes in is palm kernel, and that's not genetically modified," he says. "Certainly there's no concerns from me".

Mr Browning says Fonterra should be more transparent about what's being imported into New Zealand to feed dairy herds.

Farmers may not even be aware that they are feeding GE food to their cows and they should insist on GE-free supplies if they want an international point of difference for their products.