27/09/2005 - 22:00

‘Medicated’ animals may lift production

27/09/2005 - 22:00

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While the debate over genetically modified foods continues unabated, another ‘food science’ is attracting growing interest, on the production side of the equation at least.

‘Medicated’ animals may lift production

While the debate over genetically modified foods continues unabated, another ‘food science’ is attracting growing interest, on the production side of the equation at least.

Proponents of the science believe ‘medicated food animals’ will provide the efficiency, reliability and speed required for the world to feed its growing population in relation to issues of sustainability, quality and cost.

One Perth-based research team, Stirling Products Limited, is leading a charge of new and innovative ways to use antibiotics in the most common food animals in our diets.

Led by managing director Dr Calvin London, the company has just completed successful testing in New Zealand, producing pigs with leaner muscle and less fat concentrations.

The promising results from the trial at Massey University could lead to similar work here in Australia.

The company hopes to use ST810, the active ingredient in asthma treatments, to produce similar decreases in fat in chickens.

Some estimates suggest a bird could be grown with 30 per cent less fat than current chickens.

Rather than relieving symptoms of restricted breathing, the procedure would act as an appetite suppressant for the chickens, cutting the amount of food they consumed, redirecting their energy needs and lowering fat production.

A refined form of ST810 could be fed to chickens before they are slaughtered, with sufficient time for it to alter the animal’s metabolism.

In essence, a bigger bird with less fat, suggests Stirling Products.

A purified form of ST810 would be fed to chickens 21 days before they went to market.

Dr London dismissed potential health concerns, saying ST810 was used at very low levels and broke down quickly.

The business of medicating animal feeds is growing rapidly as farming groups look to squeeze every inch of efficiency out of overstretched farms.

And with the world’s population expected to grow by 50 per cent in the next 30 years, more pressure is being put on means to boost productivity.

While the issue of antibiotics in foods is far less controversial here than it is in Europe, Stirling Products still requires the approval from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority before any trial takes place.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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