More than 4,700 German farms have been hit by dioxin pollution, forcing German agriculture and consumer affairs officials to halt sales from anywhere that chicken feed may have been affected.
Gerd Sonnleitner, the President of the German Farmers’ Association, stated that the estimated resulting loss to the agricultural industry is somewhere between $52 million and $70 million a week.
Millions of eggs have undergone a market recall while investigators examine the reasons leading to a brand of rapeseed oil, manufactured by the same company that supplies the feed, becoming contaminated by dioxin.
Dioxin is a pollutant which can occur naturally through volcanic activity or forest fires, but is more widely caused by industry. It’s a highly toxic chemical which can cause hormonal imbalances, cancer, lead to foetal feminisation and deformities as well as miscarriages.
According to a report by the German Agricultural Ministry, around 3,000 tons of an additive used in poultry feed have been found to contain traces of the deadly Dioxin since news of the health scare emerged earlier this week.
Regional authorities along with the federal government have quickly reassured the public, saying that the levels of dioxin found in the contaminated products would be too low to pose any health problems.
Fears that the contamination had spread beyond German borders have been quashed by Holger Eichele, a spokesman for the German Agricultural and Consumer Protection Ministry, and despite a total of 136,000 eggs being delivered to a company in neighbouring Holland, he said, “The company has already been informed about the problem and so has the European Commission, we are not aware of any other deliveries to other E.U. member states.”
European Health Commissioner, John Dali, released s statement regarding more stringent safety checks, saying, “In the coming weeks, I will explore with our E.U. partners and stakeholders ways to further strengthen our monitoring processes of dioxin in feed.”
The company at the root of the problems, Harles and Jentzsch, allegedly supplied up to 3,000 tons of contaminated fatty acids meant for industrial, but somehow they found their way into the chicken feed.
They claim that animal feed contamination is an isolate incident and as soon as they became aware of the problem they notified the authorities immediately. 8,000 German chickens had to be destroyed as a result.
The German Farmers’ Association has called for the feed producers to compensate farmers for their losses. “Whoever causes the damages should also pay for them,” the secretary general of the association, Helmut Born, told the German daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.
[adsense]There is a possibility that the pollution is linked to a wikileaks report which stated that certain GM companies in the US (such as Monsanto) were unhappy that Germany, along with other EU countries like France and Austria, had refused to import and grow Monsanto’s Round-Up ready crops. The cable released by Julian Assange’s wikileaks included a statement from US officials saying that they would need to exert pressure through sanctions or other means, on countries that were unwilling to buy genetically modified products.
Is this a cover up for something more nefarious or is it just a simple mistake? Please share your thoughts on the contamination of German farms by leaving a comment.
images: chm.bris.ac.uk, topagrar.com