Breed super cows, farms told

AUSTRALIA - West Australian dairy farmers are being urged to consider breeding super-sized cows from genetically modified cloned animals which are capable of producing 40 per cent more milk than traditionally bred cows, as a way of averting financial ruin.
calendar icon 11 January 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

Reports that a British farmer has imported from the US five embryos of a genetically modified cow designed to produce 30 to 40 per cent more milk a day has reignited the debate over GM food. Harsh restrictions regulate the use of gene technology in Australia and a State Government moratorium prevents trials of GM crops in WA, but the use of the naturally born offspring of GM animals has highlighted a grey area in the laws.

The first calf from the embryos, named Dundee Paradise, was reportedly born at a Midlands farm in Britain last month after being implanted in a surrogate mother.

It is believed the Holstein calves will eventually produce 39 litres of milk in a session. The highest producing cows in Australia can be milked up to three times a day and produce about 60 litres a day.

WA shadow agriculture minister Gary Snook encouraged farmers to embrace the opportunities of new science, saying it could be a lifeline to farmers struggling to make ends meet in the face of competition from corporate dairies.

The number of dairy producers has fallen by half since the industry was deregulated six years ago, with farmer groups saying the average farm gate price is just 29¢ a litre, more than 10 per cent lower than overall prices in 2000.

Mr Snook said while strict controls would be needed to ensure the animals’ welfare and the quality of the end product was protected, gene technology should not be discounted just because people were afraid.

Source: The West Australian

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