Non-GM feeding standard for Cervena deer

Non-GM feeding standard for Cervena deer

Discerning consumers and top chefs pay premium prices for our Cervena venison because – as well as being a great eating experience -- it comes from deer grazed on the ‘fresh, clean, natural farmlands of New Zealand’.  The word ‘natural’ satisfies their concerns about animal welfare and farming systems. They also expect it to mean that Cervena deer are not given GM (genetically modified) feeds.  For that reason young deer must be fed non-GM diets in order to be eligible for processing as Cervena venison from 1 January 2019.

Most NZ deer farmers have always fed their deer on non-GM feed because their deer are mainly fed on home-grown pasture and forage crops. No GM pastures or crops are grown in New Zealand.  However during periods of seasonal feed shortage, or to boost feed quality, some deer are given supplements of grain-based compounded meals, pellets and nuts or molasses. Imported maize is also sometimes imported for use whole or kibbled as animal feed.

Because all of these supplements may be from, or could include, GM plant materials Cervena farmers need to get an assurance from suppliers of supplementary feeds that they don’t include any GM ingredients.

  • For a list of manufacturers and resellers who have told DINZ they offer (or can manufacture to order) GM-free feed supplements click here >>
  • For a web version of the brochure explaining the standard, click here >>

Questions & answers

Q:        Why was the standard introduced?

A:         The standard was requested by the Cervena licensees (the major venison marketers) because many of their overseas customers assume that because Cervena is ‘pure’, ‘natural’ and ‘pasture-fed’ that this also means ‘GM-free’. By having the standard, marketers will be able to confirm that     Cervena animals are fed non-GM diets.

Q:        What deer are used for Cervena?

A:         All five venison companies are licensed to market Cervena. They select venison cuts from deer in the premium weight range that are 3 years old or younger at slaughter. The cuts used for Cervena varies from marketer to marketer and the time of the year.

Talk to your venison company about their requirements, but assume that all deer that could be slaughtered at 3 years old or younger are potential Cervena animals.

Q:         Is the standard compulsory?

A:         No. If your deer are given GM feeds your venison company will still be able to process them, but your venison will be ineligible for sale as Cervena, which sells for premium prices.

Q.        What feeds are GM?

A:         The only feeds that potentially could be GM are manufactured feed supplements made from imported ingredients, or feed maize.  Many stock feeds are made from imported ingredients derived from GM crops. GM maize is imported for feeding direct to stock after being treated to make the seeds non-viable.

Q:         How do I prove that my deer have been fed on non-GM diets?

A.         Compliance with the standard will initially be based on assurances you provide to your venison company. If you feed your deer solely on feed grown in New Zealand your declaration to your venison company should be all that’s needed.

If you buy-in compounded feeds, feed maize or molasses you need ask the supplier for a certificate or letter confirming the feed contains no GM ingredients.

             Discuss compliance with your venison company which may have additional requirements. If in the future, a venison marketer wanted to make a GM-free label claim, formal third-party verification of compliance would be needed.

Q:         What happens if a GM pasture or crop variety is introduced to New Zealand?

A:         The standard has been introduced in response to market demand. The deer industry is not passing judgement on the wider issues relating to the introduction of GMs to New Zealand. If GM-crops or pasture varieties are introduced to New Zealand, the standard will be reviewed.

Q:         Does non-GM mean 100% non-GM or is there a tolerance?

A:         There is always a chance of some minor mixing in feed plants and trucks that also handle GM grains and feeds, Cervena licenses can adopt a tolerant attitude toward inadvertent use. The European Union tolerance for GM-free production of no more than 0.9% per ingredient, provided it is accidental or technically unavoidable.

The following companies have told DINZ that they have GM-free deer feeds available, or can formulate them to order. They are also able to provide certificates, letters or other written confirmation that the feed supplied is GM free: