Inquiry warned over milk from GM-fed cows

A A A

A scientist giving evidence at a public inquiry into a genetically modified (GM) maize intended for animals has said he would not drink the milk of cows fed on it.

A scientist giving evidence at a public inquiry into a genetically modified (GM) maize intended for animals has said he would not drink the milk of cows fed on it.

Professor Bob Orskov, of the independent International Feed Resource Unit, told a hearing yesterday that "if the GM maize was approved for commercial growing in the UK, then people would be justified in turning their back on consuming milk derived from it". He added: "As a scientist, I wouldn't drink milk from cows fed GM maize with the present state of knowledge."

Another expert witness, Dr Vyvyan Howard, who is head of the Foetal and Infant Toxico-Pathology group at the University of Liverpool, told the hearing: "My interpretation is that this GM maize has not been tested thoroughly." He said after examining data from the biotechnology company Aventis, which makes the GM maize, there appeared to be "statistically significant" differences between the fat, protein and fibre composition of its "Chardon LL" GM strain and non-GM varieties.

But Des D'Souza, for Aventis, said last night that "the requirements for testing are set by the Government, not industry. We have met those requirements." Chardon LL has also been grown commercially and fed to animals since 1997 in the US and Canada with no ill effects, he added.

Professor Orskov and Dr Howard were giving evidence at a public inquiry to examine whether Chardon LL should be added to the UK's "National Seed Listing". Being included on that list is an essential step towards the crop being commercially planted, although Aventis and other biotech companies producing GM crops have said that they will wait for the outcome of the Government's "farm-scale" trials of such crops before they consider their wide-scale use. The trials could take up to three years to produce results.

But if the trials said that GM crops did not harm the environment, then any GM product already included on the National Seed List could be planted immediately. The maize in question is genetically engineered to be resistant to a particular pesticide produced by Aventis. The crop would only be used as "forage" to feed animals, principally in winter.

But Professor Orskov attacked the lack of rigour that had gone into its production. "It has only been fed as grain to chickens, not as a crop to cattle, which have four stomachs rather than one," he said after the hearing. "We need to carry out proper long-term tests both on the effect of the maize silage on the microbes in the stomach of the ruminants which digest the feed, and on the host animals. This has not been done."

Dr Howard added: "In [Aventis's] testing they have taken a protein from another plant and fed it to rats. I do not feel that this can be used as a basis for making judgements about the safety of this GM maize with respect to cattle."

Aventis is refusing to present any evidence at the hearing, despite being warned by the presiding barrister that not to do so could endanger its case.

The hearings follow pressure by the green group Friends of The Earth, which used a little-known aspect of the seed legislation to force a public hearing. The Government received so many objections that it was obliged to hold a public inquiry, which has been running since 2 October.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine