NSW Farmers opposes beta agonist registration

Beef Central, 18/06/2020

STATE farm body NSW Farmers has voiced its opposition to the registration of a new beta agonist drug for use in the Australian beef feedlot sector, on the grounds of the potential trade risk it poses to our meat exports.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Association (APVMA) is currently considering the approval of Zilmax, a growth promoting drug which uses the beta agonist zilpaterol as its active ingredient.

Beef Central discussed the proposed registration at length in this earlier article published last month.

The application has divided industry, with groups like Cattle Council of Australia and the Australian Meat Industry Council opposing the move, and the Australian Lot Feeders Association in support.

The APVMA has extended the current public comment period over the Zilmax registration. Originally due to close yesterday, submissions are now open until 23 June. Beef Central will provide a report once the comment period has closed.

In a statement, NSW Farmers cattle committee chair Derek Schoen said drugs like zilpaterol were banned in major beef export destinations like China, Taiwan and the EU because of human health concerns associated with beta agonists.

“Why does NSW Farmers oppose the use of beta agonists in Australian cattle? Some of our key trade markets have a zero tolerance to beta agonists, so approving their use is an unacceptable risk to Australia’s meat export industry,” Mr Schoen said.

“The registration of Zilmax here could lead to a ban on Australian meat exports to some countries. Last year, China banned all Canadian meat exports for five months because a beta agonist was detected in pork imported from Canada.”

“Australia’s so called ‘clean and green’ status would also be tarnished if Zilmax were to be approved. Our reputation for producing clean and safe food is valued both at home and abroad, so we need to be careful to maintain it.”

Mr Schoen said that NSW Farmers had advocated firmly against the approval of Zilmax, and that anyone opposed to the registration should make their opposition known.

“NSW Farmers has advocated alongside Cattle Council of Australia and the Australian Meat Industry Council to oppose the registration, and has engaged heavily with the APVMA’s public consultation on the matter.”

“We represent the majority view of the red meat supply chain in opposing the registration.”

“We are not disputing the science supporting the potential benefit of Zilmax to feedlot efficiency, but the drug’s use is not worth the trade risk it presents.”

“Australian beef exports were worth almost $10.5 billion in 2019 alone. If we want Australian agriculture to become a $100 billion sector by 2030, we cannot jeopardise the profitability of one of its main contributing industries.”








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  1. Benjamin Huston, 19/06/2020

    It should not be approved; short term gains may be realised but long term risk is too high.

  2., 18/06/2020

    For once I totally agree with John Gunthorpe. To sanction the use of of this drug would dispense with common sense. Greg Brown

  3. John Gunthorpe, 18/06/2020

    In August last year Merck & Co, the manufacturer of Zilmax, voluntarily withdrew the muscle-growing supplement from the USA and Canada cattle feedlot industry when Tyson Foods announced it would not take delivery of any Zilmax treated cattle into its abattoirs as it had observed Zilmax-fed cattle arriving for slaughter in physical distress. Cargill has also refused to allow Zilmax into its beef supply chain.

    Last week I crawled out of bed at 3am to attend the US Beef Improvement Federation Symposium on Zoom and listened to Brian Bertelsen, VP Field Operations for US Premium Beef, give a very interesting presentation titled Genetic Improvement – What does the Grid Data Show Us? Zilmax was mentioned and its impact was dramatic with average daily weight gains increasing significantly in the two years it was used in the US feedlot industry. Unfortunately Brian drew from his company’s records to provide the details and so at this stage there is not a copy of his presentation available for you.

    If the product is off the market in the US and Canada because of the pain it can give to cattle on feed, there is no place for it in Australia. We fully support banning this drug and call on APVMA not to permit its registration in Australia.
    Australian Cattle Industry Council

  4. Deb Newell, 18/06/2020

    The feedlot industry just can’t help itself from changing the physiology of its intensively farmed animals and, by inheritance, the physiology of human consumers unaware of the biochemical distortions they are eating. Not content with turning current human generations unsure of whether they are Arthur or Martha because of all the experiments with hormones to increase muscle growth as fast as possible while limiting cattle aggression that could bruise those muscles they now want to distort human cardiovascular systems and voluntary muscle responses by using Beta agonist. All for what ? More tasteless meat!

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