By FWi staff

PROPOSED bans on the use of GM feed and antibiotic growth promoters could cost the UK poultry industry £130 million a year.

This could open up the UK up to a flood of lower-cost imports produced to lower standards, said Dr Brian Cooke, recipient of the eighth Temperton Fellowship for Poultry Research.

In his report (Hazards and Risks of Poultry production with Particular Reference to Animal feeding Stuffs) Dr Cooke calls for EU and UK authorities to work towards global standards on the use of feed and medicines to establish a level playing field for production.

“The UK and EU poultry industries are controlled by extensive legislation and policing. However, other countries importing poultry meat into the EU are not necessarily subject to equivalent levels of control,” said Dr Cooke.

Dr Cookes used Thailand as an example from where, he said, 38,100 tonnes of poultry meat was imported into the EU in 1997.

“Thailands law controlling animal feed production allows the use of growth promoters banned in the EU,” said Dr Cooke.

“However, enquiries indicate most Thai feed companies have not seen written copies of the regulations, the code does not appear to be applied in practice and there appears to be no policing of compliance by the authorities.”

His concerns are that a proposed extension of the EU ban on certain antibiotic growth promoters and any ban on the use of GM feed will have dramatic economic and welfare impacts on broiler and turkey production.

Any ban would put an additional cost to the industry equivalent of 10p for each broiler and 30p for each turkey produced,” said Dr Cooke.

And a price increase of this proportion would result in more imports into the EU from countries such as Thailand, he added.

“Unless the UK poultry industry is to be decimated by lower cost imports, it is essential that discussions on growth promoters, medicines and use of GM feed are approached on a global basis.

“European and UK authorities must work together with WHO and FAO to ensure the issue of feed and food safety are tackled at the global level,” said Dr Cooke.

  • Hazards and Risks of Poultry Production with Particular Reference to Animal Feeding Stuffs, price £10, is available from the office supervisor, Harper Adams University College, Newport, Shropshire. Tel: 01952 820280