09/08/2009

Farmers Already Have Better Options than GE pasture crops

 

"Farmers and Producer Boards should look to existing and proven forage plant, livestock, and agricultural systems rather than heed AgResearch's calls for genetically engineered (GE) fodder crops to reduce global warming" says Claire Bleakley of GE free NZ in Food and Environment.

Pressure from our international trading partners demanding that food is grown sustainably and humanely means we must concentrate on the existing plant and animal genetics in conjunction with sustainable farming methods to reduce global warming.

"Given the proven success of existing forage and fodder research that does not carry the stigma of GE experiments, it is wrong to promise farmers that GE crops are solution to climate change mitigation" [1] says Ms Bleakley.

International research [2] shows that methane emissions are significantly reduced in different forage pastures like mixed leys and legumes. New Zealand research found that methane emissions rise and fall in direct relationship to the levels of pasture quality; the age of the animal all influencing the production of milk, meat and wool [3]. Sulla, Lucerne and Trefoil clovers with high levels of condensed tannins reduced methane emissions in cows and increased milk production. Sheep fed on a legume forage also had a 13% decrease in methane emissions.[4]

"A sustainable and better way foward for New Zealand farmers without the safety doubts and widespread economic risks of GE is to fund and further Develop and Research legume-grass pastures that are not engineered." says Ms Bleakley " and advise farmers on what pastures to grow that reduce methane emissions today."
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[1] Neil Wallace Claim GE could curb global warming, Otago Daily Times, 3/8/09 News: Farming http://www.odt.co.nz/news/farming/67987/claim-ge-could-curb-global-warming


[2] Wittenberg K.M. Enteric methane emissions and mitigation opportunities for Canadian cattle production systems. Department of Animal Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2

‘Energy lost as enteric methane emissions were 7.1 % of GEI for alfalfa-grass vs. 9.5 % of GEI for grass-only pastures. An 11 % increase for calf growth rates on the legume-grass pasture would serve as further incentive to consider legume incorporation as a mitigation strategy” (p6)


Ominski K and Wittenberg K.M (2004) Strategies For Reducing Enteric Methane Emissions In Forage-Based Beef Production Systems, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta Canadian Society of Agronomy, Animal Science and Soil Science.


[3] Mountfort M., (2003) Methane mitigation Dairy Exporter; p56.


[4] Carulla, J. E., M. Kreuzer, A. Machmuller, and H. D. Hess. 2005. Supplementation of Acacia mearnsii tannins decreases methanogenesis and urinary nitrogen in forage-fed sheep. Austr. J. Agric. Res. 56:96

ENDS

Claire Bleakley - 027 348 6731 / 06 3089842

Jon Carapiet - 0210507681

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