Scientists slam Coles’ move to HGP-free beef

Posted by Rita Mu

Scientists across the country have come together to campaign against Coles’ decision to ban the sale of hormonal growth promotants (HGP) in beef.

The 35 scientists voiced their objection to the hormone ban by signing an open letter to the Weekly Times newspaper last week.

Professor Peter Wynn of the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at Charles Sturt University, one of the scientists to support the campaign, said Coles’ move to HGP-free beef could lead to loss of production for farmers, particularly in feedlots.

“The suggestion by Coles is that Australian farmers who use HGP on their cattle are producing a lower quality product which is somehow unsafe for human consumption,” Prof. Wynn said. “Such insinuations are fiction and not supported by science.”

“The facts are that beef which has been treated with HGPs is safe to eat. The use of the growth hormones is approved and regulated by the agency, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.  

“The hormones used in treated cattle are naturally-occurring and in much lower levels than in other food products such as eggs or soymilk.

Prof. Wynn said Coles’ anti-HGP move could force losses in production efficiency of up to 15 per cent in feedlot and grass-fed beef enterprises.

Coles hit back saying the majority of Australian beef was already HGP-free and the campaign was being funded by the Animal Health Alliance, which represents pharmaceutical companies that produce HGPs.

“It is important to note that 60 per cent of Australian beef is already HGP free and Coles’ initiative will not materially change this. Coles is not asking the rest of the industry to go HGP free,” Coles said in a press statement.

Image: Professor Peter Wynn, csu.edu.au

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