Lab meat’s unsavoury science

August 12, 2019

Nicola Dennis looks at the unsavoury science behind lab-grown meat:

. . .The process for growing meat in the lab is pretty similar to how I grew my E.coli. Cells from the muscles (myocytes) on an animal are put into a smoothie of nutrients and incubated at body temperature for days on end.

The things that like to grow in a clump of “meat” incubated at body temperature are exactly the kind of things that would like to grow inside a human and cause nasty infections. This is precisely the reason why humans invented refrigerators to cool our food.

A lonesome myocyte, outside its natural environment, is not able to defend itself. Back when it was inside the animal it was living in a very controlled environment. In its natural environment, the immune worked hard to keep it safe from any nasties.

The lab-grown myocytes are going to have to be dosed with antibiotics; there is pretty much no other safe way around it. Even then, it could be hard to maintain food safety.

Strict regulations require withholding periods after stock are given drench or medicine, including antibiotics, to ensure no residues are left in meat. Do we know what, if any, residues are left in lab-grown meat?

When an animal is butchered, there are a lot of ways that we can test if it is safe to eat. We can observe its behaviour before slaughter and we can inspect the non-meat parts of the carcase such as the lungs and liver for anything out of the ordinary.

It is much harder to tell if a bunch of cells in a flask are infected (or malformed in the case of mad cow disease). How are the lab-based meat-mush growers going to ensure that their product is safe to consume on any given day?

Also, since the cells are not exposed to natural hormones in the blood, they will have to be treated with hormones and growth promoters so that they will replicate and grow. The protocols used by the proposed lab-meat companies are proprietary and secretive. However, I was able to dig up some humble science papers on how to culture skeletal myocytes (muscle cells) for research. These were being treated with Epidermal Growth Factor, Basic fibroblast growth factor, Dexamethasone, Insulin, Penicillin, Streptomycin, and Fetuin.

Your lab-grown meat is doping up like a performance-enhancing body-builder.
And that doped up athlete ain’t exactly eating grass, either.

New Zealand stock grows naturally on pasture and crops without the assistance of hormones or any other artificial growth promotants

Now that we have ensured the myocyte’s safety, we still need to feed it. It needs to be kept in a slushy of its favourite food called “medium”, which is a rough approximation of blood. The science papers I looked at all started off with a recipe of “Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle Medium” which doesn’t include eagles, but a complicated mix of amino acids, glucose, salt and vitamins. To this, we add things like foetal calf serum and chicken embryo extract. Both of those ingredients are exactly what they sound like, pieces of cow and chicken foetuses.

Fetal calf serum and chicken embryo extract? That doesn’t sound like the sort of thing a vegan would eat.

At a conservative estimate, more than 40 ingredients are used in the juice keeping the cells alive. You would have to be severely optimistic to think that all these ingredients would be coming from sustainable and ethical sources.

But let’s just focus on the glucose in that recipe. Cultured meat is going to require a LOT of medical-grade glucose (ie: table sugar of the highest standard). Right now, the world produces somewhere between 300 and 500 million tonnes of meat each year. In contrast, global production of sugar (the ordinary kind) is about 180 million tonnes. I have no idea how much sugar is needed to make a kilogram of cultured meat, but I am sure we don’t have enough sugar to make an impact on global meat production.

Sugar is sometimes added to processed meals which include meat but pasture-raised meat is single-ingredient and sugar-free.

Pastoral agriculture is a pretty simple and slick system. We turn a natural resource that we can’t eat (grass) into something we can eat (meat and milk) with grazing animals. The land we (the world) use to do this is, by and large, not suitable for the production of sugar or the other 40 ingredients needed for cultured meat. Or, for the ingredients required in the less-terrifying, but no-less-processed plant-based “meats”.

Some people can’t stand the thought of an animal being killed for their food. So be it. Let them eat cake… or felafel. But, when it comes to meat, there is no substitute for the simplicity and safety of the real deal.

Those last two paragraphs need repeating:

Pastoral agriculture is a pretty simple and slick system. We turn a natural resource that we can’t eat (grass) into something we can eat (meat and milk) with grazing animals. The land we (the world) use to do this is, by and large, not suitable for the production of sugar or the other 40 ingredients needed for cultured meat. Or, for the ingredients required in the less-terrifying, but no-less-processed plant-based “meats”.

Some people can’t stand the thought of an animal being killed for their food. So be it. Let them eat cake… or felafel. But, when it comes to meat, there is no substitute for the simplicity and safety of the real deal.

Eat like our grandparents ate, the closer to nature the better; eat fresh unprocessed food; eat less sugar. This is the advice from health professionals advising on healthy diets.

Lab-grown meat is nothing like our grandparents ate, it’s far from nature, it’s highly processed and sugar is one of its many ingredients.

Simple, slick and safe is a far better recipe for healthy eating than the lab-grown alternatives.

 


People and birds pooh too

December 28, 2018

Auckland beaches are awash with human faeces.

Holidaymakers are being asked to avoid 12 Auckland beaches because they are contaminated by faeces.

An alert on the SafeSwim website today advises that water-quality models predict levels of Faecal Indicator Bacteria that exceed national guidelines for swimming, based on guidance published by the Ministry of Health and Ministry for the Environment.

Eight beaches in West Auckland and two in central Auckland have long-term alerts which rate them as no-swim zones. . . 

Further south Craig Hickman says seagulls are to blame:

As you travel north into Ashburton you are greeted by a stark black billboard with large white lettering making a very bold claim: Ravensdown & Ballance Pollute Rivers.

The billboard is in a 50km zone so your passenger may even get the chance to read the hashtag in the bottom left hand corner, #TooManyCows, and see Greenpeace’s distinct logo in the bottom right.

Shortly after passing the billboard you’ll drive over the bridge that spans the Ashburton River and through a flock of wheeling and squawking gulls in a scene reminiscent of the rubbish dumps of my childhood. You could take this opportunity to explain to your travelling companion that the guano from the thousands of gulls nesting in the braided river below is as thick as the irony contained in the billboard’s simplistic message.

You see, from State Highway 1 to the ocean it’s those native seagulls that are polluting our river, not a fertiliser company. There’s not as many nesting this year as have in the past, only an estimated 8000, but that’s still equivalent to 4000 cows pumping E.Coli into the river every single day.

That’s right, two seagulls excrete as much E.Coli per day as a single dairy cow, which is still far preferable to ducks, a single one of which poops out nearly 16 times as many of the nasty organisms daily as a cow does.

Up river you can still happily and safely swim, but once you reach the colony of seagulls the danger of getting sick becomes very real.

I guess NATIVE SEAGULLS ARE POLLUTING RIVERS wouldn’t cause the type of outrage their disingenuous offering is hoping for. . . 

Seagulls are the source of high E.Coli in the Kakanui River which borders our farm, and from which we get our drinking water.

If you listened to the propaganda you’d think that cows were the cause of all New Zealand’s water woes.

But people and birds pooh too and in Auckland and these rivers they are to blame for unhealthy water.

If farmers were to blame they’d be liable for prosecution and sizable fines.

If individuals aren’t responsible for the dirty beaches, at least one council is but rather than fines, it should be required to upgrade its storm and waste water systems urgently.

We can’t fine birds, but if they are so numerous as to cause significant pollution, why can’t some be culled?

There are strong calls to cull cows, but there’s one rule for bovines and another for the birds.


Rural round-up

December 21, 2018

Taratahi agri training operator in interim liquidation – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre has been placed into interim liquidation at the request of its board of trustees as declining student numbers saw its funding drop faster than it could cut costs.

The High Court yesterday appointed David Ruscoe and Russell Moore of Grant Thornton as interim liquidators after the board sought to protect the position of its staff, students, creditors and other stakeholders, the accounting firm said.

Taratahi is a private training establishment, employing 250 staff, and educating 2,850 students this year. It owns and manages eight farms across the country. . . 

IrrigationNZ welcomes new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ has appointed Elizabeth Soal as its new Chief Executive.

“IrrigationNZ has recently adopted a new strategy which focuses on creating an environment for the responsible use of water for food production. As part of the strategy we will be focusing on advocacy, encouraging innovation through sharing ideas and adopting new technology, developing a robust information base, bringing the irrigation sector, researchers and decision makers together to make better decisions for our future and creating world‑leading irrigation standards,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Board Chair.

“Elizabeth has a strong background in water management, law and policy and she will help contribute to all of these goals but she is particularly well qualified to contribute to national discussions as we seek to achieve solutions to complex issues around water allocation which result in good outcomes for both communities and the environment.” . . 

Feds welcome new IrrigationNZ chief executive:

Federated Farmers welcomes Elizabeth Soal as the new chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand.

Federated Farmers maintains an excellent working relationship with Irrigation New Zealand,” Feds water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Elizabeth has the credentials and background, including her strategy and policy work for the Waitaki Irrigators Collective, to help ensure INZ continues its excellent work.” . .

Federated Farmers disputes E Coli claims – Eric Frykberg:

There is no proof that E. Coli found in three Canterbury rivers came from cows, according to Federated Farmers.

Research commissioned by Fish and Game found dangerous pathogens in three Canterbury rivers – the Ashley, Selwyn and Rangitata.

Fish and Game insisted the cause was leaching from dairy farms.

But Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said the problem could be caused by wildlife, or human activity, as well as from animals. . . 

Research suggests we should take a harder look at the benefits of organic foods – Point of Order:

The Green Party’s food policy may need revisiting, in the light of research published in the past week.

The policy was introduced in May 2017 by Green Party MP Mojo Mathers, who lost her list place in Parliament at the general election.

How we produce, distribute and consume food is of critical importance to growing resilient healthy communities, minimising our ecological footprint and maintaining a
stable economy, she said.  That’s why food policy lies at the heart of Green policy. . . 

Reflections on the year that was – Allan Barber:

From a New Zealand domestic perspective the attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis has had the biggest impact on farming, most of it focused on the relatively small number of properties forced to cull their entire herd, some of it directed at those properties under surveillance or Notice of Direction, and some of it on the agricultural service industry, including meat processors, cartage contractors, stock agents and saleyards, as well as calf clubs and A&P shows.

MPI is cautiously optimistic the disease can be eradicated which would be the first time any country has achieved such an outcome. However there is still plenty of water to flow under the bridge before anyone can say with confidence that the hitherto impossible has been achieved. 2019 will almost certainly be the year we know for certain, one way or the other. . . 

Guy Trafford finishes 2018 with a GDT review, news of a new Fish & Game river survey, calling out plant-based-milk, and an update on the MPB eradication – Guy Trafford:

An ever so slight increase in the Global Dairy Trade price for whole milk powder with a +0.3% lift. It may not put much of a smile on farmers faces but at least it is a not a drop.

Overall the GDT went up by +1.7% with both butter and cheddar making gains with lifts of +4.9% and +2.2% respectively so not such a poor result. With this now being the second – be they small – lift in a row and we have to go back almost 12 months before we had a repeat of two consecutive sales lifting. Dairy Futures had predicted a higher 3% lift in WMP for this period and with volumes sold down 0.7% on the previous sale, which was also down, the remainder of the season still looks precarious. The next sale is on the 2nd of January 2019. . . 

New captain for 2019 Meat Blacks:

One of the final jobs of 2018 is to take a look at the 2019 Meat Blacks team that will lead the sector next year.

There haven’t been too many adjustments to make, though the sector has had a couple of big retirements from the leadership, lock Sir Graeme Harrison (ANZCO) and number eight James Parsons (B+LNZ Ltd) have departed this year. Linesman Martyn Dunne also retired from MPI and has been replaced by Ray Smith, fresh from Corrections (Ed: appropriately!).

As a result, we have a new captain Murray Taggart (Alliance), promoted from vice-captain, and new vice-captain Tony Egan (Greenlea Premier Meats) to lead the team. . . 

T&G Global profit dented by cheaper tomatoes, small grape harvest  – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – T&G Global says its annual profit will more than halve this year after cheaper tomatoes and a weather-affected grape harvest in Peru dented earnings.

Net profit will be $8-10 million this calendar year, down from $22.6 million in 2017, it said in a statement.

Lower tomato prices affected T&G’s covered crops unit while its Peru grapes division dealt with a smaller harvest, it said. . .


Small failures

September 1, 2016

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board expects investigations will show a combination of small failures led to the gastroenteritis outbreak in Havelock North.

. . . The DHB’s chief executive, Kevin Snee, said he expected the government’s inquiry would show that there were small problems in the systems and processes used by the DHB, and by the district and regional councils.

He expected this to show that, when aligned, the problems allowed the water supply to become contaminated and people to get sick. . . 

This is so often the case, lots of small things add up to cause a big problem.

Earlier tests pointed to a ruminant animal as the cause of the outbreak.

Even before that was announced the usual suspects were blaming intensive dairy farming, in spite of there being none near the bore supplying the town.

. . . Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said the area near the aquifer was mostly lifestyle blocks and orchards.

He said people needed to take a step back from the speculation.

“We all contribute to bacteria in the environment, birds do, humans do and so do farm animals.

“Last week we saw a crescendo of finger pointing at agriculture, we heard that this was because of intensive dairy farms and the closest dairy farm we can find is 40 kilometres away.”

Mr Rolleston said while the indications did point to a four-legged animal as the source of contamination, that didn’t mean intensive agriculture was to blame.

He said the aquifer in question was a shallow aquifer, which had a greater risk of having its seals breached.

“We’re not saying that agriculture doesn’t create a risk, but those are the risks that the council needs to actually take cognisance of and mitigate.”

Last week the Green Party said any inquiry into the Havelock North water contamination should look at the role of intensive agriculture.

Mr Rolleston admitted agriculture was a risk for water.

“We’re not denying that and farmers have been up to the task. We’ve spent a billion dollars in the last decade fencing rivers and we’re playing our part.” . . 

Environment Minister Nick Smith also says speculation is unhelpful:

Questions have been asked about the culpability of cattle and chicken farmers, as well as a nearby mushroom farm, but Dr Smith says sometimes even the most basic failures could be to blame.

The campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North struck down 5100 people with gastro, closed schools and businesses and has left residents still boiling their drinking water weeks later.

It is a reminder of the E. coli contamination in Nelson where upstream farmers, birds and waterfowl were blamed before testing confirmed the true cause, Dr Smith says.

“It was embarrassingly found that most of the problem was toilets from the council’s library having been wrongly plumbed into the stormwater rather than the sewerage system,” he told crowds at a Lincoln University environment lecture in Christchurch on Tuesday night.

He said the lesson was to be cautious of jumping to conclusions too soon. . . 

He also addressed concerns about measuring water quality, limits on water takes and proposed strengthening of swimming requirements.

Dr Smith warned a goal of making all waterways swimmable, rather than wadeable, were “unworkable” and “impossible” without a massive bird cull.

But the Green Party has criticised that view as baseless.

“He knows, as we all do, that the real and lasting damage to our rivers is from stock in waterways, farm run-off, sewage and intensified dairy farms among others – he just won’t admit it,” Green Party water spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty said. . . 

Tests above and below a dam on our farm confirmed birds were at the bottom of poor water quality.

The Otago Regional Council also proved seagulls were to blame for high levels of E.coli in the Kakanui River.

Up until recently, ORC staff and local farmers alike had been baffled about the cause of such high concentrations in the upper Kakanui, particularly during summer.

ORC staff have been concerned about the concentration of the bacteria, as high levels indicate a risk of people swimming becoming ill. The council enlisted the help of local farmers, who provided access to their properties and the nearby river for inspection.

ORC scientists went into the gorge to investigate by helicopter when this inspection failed to identify the source of the bacteria. The culprits − a large colony of nesting gulls − were found in rugged terrain, about 5km above the Clifton Falls bridge. Water quality samples were taken immediately above and below the colony, with divergent results.

Upstream of the colony, the bacteria concentrations were 214 E.coli/100ml, whereas immediately downstream, the concentration was far greater at 1300 E.coli/100ml.

The levels peaked on January 3, at 2400 parts per 100ml of water. ORC manager of resource science Matt Hickey said that according to Government water quality guidelines for recreational swimming areas, those with less than 260 E.coli/100ml should be safe, whereas water with more than 550 E.coli/100ml could pose a health-risk.

Mr Hickey said six colonies of gulls were found in total, on steep rocky faces, where they clearly favoured the habitat for nesting. While they had gone undetected up until now due to their inaccessibility, it was likely the gulls returned each year to breed.

“Unfortunately, these nesting gull colonies are likely to continue to cause high E.coli concentrations in the upper Kakanui River, particularly during the breeding season,” Mr Hickey said.

These are only two examples which show Delahunty is wrong to say birds aren’t a problem.

That doesn’t mean farming, especially when it’s intensive, is blameless.

There are many causes for poor water quality but many have happened over time and it will take time to get the improvements we all seek.

That is much more likely with the collaborative approach the Minister seeks:

New Zealand had a habit of turning environmental issues into a battle ground with winners and losers where farmers are seen as environmental vandals and environmentalists as economic imbeciles, Dr Smith said.

“I have been trying to lead a culture change at both a national and local level where different water users and interest groups work together on finding solutions that will work for the environment and the economy,” he said.

It doesn’t have to be either a healthy environment or a growing economy.

A collaborative approach, based on science, can achieve both.

Science must also be applied to the cause, and response to, Havelock North’s problems to ensure that a series of small failures doesn’t lead to large-scale gastroenteritis again.


What about the birds?

July 14, 2014

The Green Party aims to have every river clean enough to swim in.

What will they do about the birds?

Up until recently, ORC staff and local farmers alike have been baffled as to what has been responsible for high concentrations of E.coli occurring at Clifton Falls on the upper Kakanui River, particularly during summer.

ORC staff have been concerned about the bacteria, as high levels have the potential to cause illness in recreational bathers.

ORC enlisted the help of local farmers, who provided access to their properties and the nearby river for close inspection. When still no source of bacteria was found, a helicopter was sent into the gorge to gain an aerial perspective of the problem.

The source – a large colony of nesting gulls – was found in rugged terrain, about 5 km above the Clifton Falls bridge.

Water quality samples were taken immediately above and below the colony, with widely divergent results Upstream of the colony, the bacteria concentrations were 214 E.coli/100ml, whereas immediately downstream, the concentration was far greater at 1300 E.coli/100ml .

ORC manager of resource science Matt Hickey said that according to Government water quality guidelines for recreational swimming areas, those with less than 260 E.coli/100m should be safe, whereas water with more than 550 E.coli/100ml could pose a health-risk.

Mr Hickey said six colonies of gulls were found in total, on steep rocky faces, where they clearly favoured the habitat for nesting. . .

But they can’t be removed because some are protected.

Council resource science manager Matt Hickey said an aerial inspection of the site had revealed that the colony contained at least one species of protected gull, and that meant the council could not act to remove the nesting birds.

”There are three species of gulls, and two of them are protected. . . .

This is not the only river to be polluted by birds and of course they are not always to blame.

And like a lot of other Green policies while this one looks fine on the surface, it’s impractical when you look deeper.

Some waterways, like the Waiareka Creek near us for example, have never been swimmable.

It used to be a series of near stagnant ponds most of the year. Now, thanks to guaranteed minimum flows with irrigation it’s running clean and clear and waterlife has established again, but it’s not deep enough to swim in.

The causes of water pollution are many – some are natural, some the result of people’s activity.

Some waterways will be able to be cleaned up relatively easily – and this is already being done.

It will take a longer time and a lot of money to get others cleaner and getting up to swimmable standard for some waterways will be impractical.

Environment Minister Amy Adams says the Greens announcement today is just the latest step in their anti-jobs, anti-growth, stop everything manifesto.

“Improving the quality of our freshwater is important to us all but the Greens approach is costly and impractical.  Approaching improvement through blanket bans and requirements for every drainage ditch across New Zealand to be maintained at a swimming pool standard just shows that the Greens have once again confirmed they are the anti-growth Party, by pursuing polices that would hurt households and damage the creation of new jobs across regional New Zealand for little real gain,” Ms Adams says.

“The Greens need to explain where they will find the billions of dollars of costs and lost revenue it could take to make every single centimetre of New Zealand’s 425,000 kilometres of rivers and streams suitable for swimming. They clearly haven’t thought through the consequences.  Once more we see that they are happy to spend the taxes generated by productive New Zealand but they take every opportunity to impose more costs on households and the businesses who are at the heart of our economy.

“And Russel Norman is once again attempting to mislead New Zealanders by comparing the nitrogen settings in the new National Freshwater Standards to the Yangtze river in China.  While the Yangtze is indeed a highly polluted river, nitrogen is not the problem there. Dr Norman knows this, or at least he should, but continues to try and twist the reality in support of his own agenda.

 “The Government’s approach to raising freshwater standards is much more pragmatic. Our clear, robust national standards for rivers and lakes will make a significant improvement to the way freshwater is managed.

“Our approach will ensure that for the first time New Zealand’s rivers and lakes will have minimum requirements that must be achieved so the water quality is suitable for ecosystem and human health.

 “The Government will let communities make the call about whether particular rivers and lakes should be suitable for swimming all the time, rather than be dictated to by politicians in Wellington.

“In addition, New Zealand already has a system for protecting our most valuable waterways – water conservation orders. These give the highest level of protection to 15 iconic waterways across New Zealand, and have been described as creating a national park system for water.  What the Greens are actually saying in this policy is they plan to stop New Zealand using one of the more important natural advantages it has.  

“Rather than stopping water use, National’s plan is about ensuring it is used responsibly in a way that provides for the needs of our people now, and into the future.”

The Green party appears to believe that economic growth always can only come at the expense of the environment and only by putting the brakes on growth can the environment be protected and enhanced.

That is not right.

I am proud to head the Bluegreens Caucus and proud to be the Chair of the Local Government & Environment Select Committee

It doesn’t have to be one or the other – we can have both economic growth and environmental protection and enhancement.

Furthermore if we want high environmental standards we need the wealth a growing economy brings to pay for them.


Could be birds not cows

January 21, 2014

E.coli has been found in the swimming holes in the Taieri River.

. . . Council director of engineering, hazards and science Gavin Palmer says staff have tracked the river through nearby farms looking for the source of the contamination but haven’t found any cause of the e.coli.

Further inspections and water quality testing are planned this week. . .

Cows are usually the first to be blamed for poor water quality and sometimes there is just cause for that, but that’s not always the case.

High levels of E.coli in the Kakanui River last summer were blamed on cattle but it turned out the culprits were seagulls.

A large colony nesting upriver from popular swimming spots – and the intake for the water scheme which supplies the district’s homes – was fouling the water.

But because some are a protected species no action was taken.


Rural round-up

January 16, 2014

If it’s hotter or cooler we need to store water – Bruce Wills:

Since it’s healthy to push yourself each New Year I like to start with a brand new experience.  For me, that was filing a farming music video for Young Country magazine.  A video set to music may be a unique way to tell my story to younger farmers but it was fun doing it at a busy time on-farm.  Admittedly, I do not think NZ on Air funding will be in the mail.

This year means I am in my final seven months as the President of Federated Farmers and I genuinely hope this column will continue with my successor.  That person will be elected in early July, after Federated Farmers provinces and industry groups assemble in Palmerston North for our National Conference. 

Looking back, 2011 seems a world away when I undertook my first political interview on TV One’s Q+A.  It was with Massey University’s Dr Mike Joy and was hosted by the late Sir Paul Holmes. The subject was water quality and our dairy industry and in the minds of some people that has not changed.  The perception of what we do is yet to catch up to the realities of modern farming. 

When you’ve got older farmers, the sort that the Topp Twins satirise so well, actively swapping notes on riparian plantings then you know there’s been a shift in culture. . .

Water storage becomes vital in changing climate – James Houghton:

Now most of you will be back from a well-rested break, having indulged yourselves silly and feeling a little guilty perhaps? Well just thought you might like to know, like most farmers, I have been kept busy as farming is a 365-day-a-year job. Thankfully, summer has been kind to us so far and the ever-increasing threat of drought has been kept at bay.

Looking to the year ahead, I am hoping we will see an improvement in people and organisations being accountable for their actions and learning from their mistakes. Last year, we saw some disappointing performances in the biosecurity area and animal welfare. We also seem to be struggling with the ever-increasing reality that we need a reliable source of water to maintain a sustainable primary industry and our economic independence. When corporates make a mistake, they need to do what is right and not solely focus on the dollar.

My hope is that we learn from past experiences and make changes for the better. If we don’t, how are we meant to protect ourselves from risk or make progress and develop ourselves? The climate and water debates paint this picture well, time and time again. . .

‘Milk price outlook, the unforeseen risk of the US’ – Lisa Deeney:

“The huge increase in supplies of natural gas and oil in the US and Canada will probably pose a strong risk to future Irish milk price by enabling US milk producers to be competitive at lower prices than before.”

This is according to Cork-based dairy farmer and businessman Mike Murphy, who has interests in America, New Zealand and Chile, and an organiser of Positive Farmers’ dairy conference taking place in Clonmel, Tipperary today.

“Be aware to this risk. Farmers who borrow heavily based on current milk price may be in for a very rough time. Be a little conservative on milk price forecasts,” he cautioned to the packed attendance of more than 475 people. . .

Fonterra cream E.coli recall proves safety system ‘works’: Federated Farmers – Mark Astley

Fonterra’s decision to recall 8,700 bottles of potentially E.coli-contaminated fresh cream proves only that the cooperative’s “quality assurance system works,” New Zealand dairy farmer representative, Federated Farmers, has claimed. . .

Brown fat measurement could offer key to improving lamb survival:

Not all fats are created equal, and work by AgResearch is looking into how this knowledge can help reduce lamb deaths.

In good conditions mortality of twins and triplets is below 10% and 20% respectively, but in poor weather conditions it can be much more. Many of these deaths occur in the first three days of life, often because the lamb is unable to generate enough body heat to keep warm during periods of extreme weather.

Immediately after birth and until they get a feed, lambs have only one main way to regulate and maintain their body temperature: burn ‘brown fat’ to generate heat. . .

Irrigation scheme gets chief -Marta Steeman:

The company developing the $400 million Hurunui irrigation scheme has appointed a permanent chief executive to steer the company through the nitty gritty of design and development.

Hurunui Water Project Limited announced this week Alex Adams would take the helm on March 10.

The appointment follows the company being awarded its most critical consent – permission to take water from the Waitohi River – in August last year.

Hurunui Water Project proposes to develop four water storage dams on the Waitohi River to irrigate just under 60,000 hectares. . .

WCB slams MG’s ‘super co-op’ plan – Jared Lynch:

WARRNAMBOOL Cheese and Butter (WCB) has attacked Murray Goulburn’s takeover bid, saying any further consolidation of Australia’s dairy industry will hurt exports.

Murray Goulburn, Australia’s biggest dairy company, has argued that if it acquired WCB it would create a ”super co-operative”, giving Australia the scale necessary to compete globally.

But in a submission to the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT), WCB dismissed that claim.

”There is a risk that further ­consolidation of Australian dairy exporting companies could have a negative effect on Australian dairy exports,” WCB said. . . .

LePage signs bill to label genetically modified food – Steve Mistler:

Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill that would require food producers to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. The law makes Maine the second state in the country to pass such a measure. However, other states must adopt similar legislation before Maine’s labeling provision goes into effect.

The governor promised last year to sign the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington. His signature is symbolic because legislative rules don’t allow the law to go into effect until the Legislature adjourns later this year. However, supporters of the bill hailed the law’s eventual passage as a victory for advocates of laws mandating the labeling of genetically modified foods. Such proposals have been introduced in nearly 30 states as part of a national effort to compel Congress to enact a comprehensive labeling law. . .


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