Only organic farms in feed crisis-German minister
HAMBURG - Only organic poultry farms in Germany, not conventional ones, are thought so far to have received feed contaminated with a dangerous herbicide, the country\'s agriculture minister Renate Kuenast said last week.
Kuenast, who is also in charge of consumer protection, said on German television station ZDF that there were no signs that conventional farms had received contaminated feed.
Tens of thousands of chickens on German organic farms are being readied for slaughter after it was confirmed they had consumed a consignment of feed contaminated with the chemical nitrofen, which can cause cancer in people eating meat and eggs.
A conventional farm in the state of Lower Saxony where poultry tested positive for nitrofen on Thursday had been in the process of converting to organic operations, Kuenast said.
There were no signs that organic cattle or pig farms are involved.
Kuenast said authorities still had no idea of the source of contamination.
A joint task force of federal and state agencies starts work last week to trace the source and assess the size of the problem, which is still unclear.
Wheat contaminated with nitrofen was used by a company in Lower Saxony to make 550 tonnes of feed and delivered to over 100 farms throughout Germany producing chickens, eggs and other poultry using ecological farming methods.
About 98,000 chickens on farms in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern which received tainted feed will now be slaughtered as farmers have been ordered not to sell them.
In Lower Saxony, the state Agriculture Ministry said 59 organic farms received tainted feed. They have been ordered to stop commercial sales while tests start and some 357,000 animals, mainly chickens, are impounded while tests go on.
The European Union Commission asked Germany to tell it how many animals were involved in the problem and whether tainted meat had been exported to EU states.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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