Serbian dairy farmers dump milk in streets in protestSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 25/02/2013 5:18 pm in World / no comments
BELGRADE, Feb. 24 — Dairy farmers throughout Serbia poured hundreds of liters of milk before legislative buildings on Sunday, protesting what they called a “politically motivated” milk scandal in the country, reported Radio Television Serbia (RTS).
Farmers in Novi Sad, Krusevac and Valjevo said were upset that dairies had halved their purchases of milk while consumption is said to have dropped by as much as 90 percent since unofficial results indicated that Serbian milk products — like many in the Balkan region — were contaminated with elevated levels of aflatoxin.
Protesters in Novi Sad singled out Goran Jesic, secretary for agriculture in the Serbian province of Vojvodina, as the main culprit for what is being referred to as the “milk affair”.
Jesic raised a red flag earlier saying he possessed results indicating higher than acceptable levels of aflatoxin, but refused to release the actual numbers until receiving results from additional laboratories for confirmation.
“They kill us with their statements,” said dairy farmer Milovan Trivunovic in Novi Sad, demanding compensation for the government’s disinformation.
Confronted by the protesters, Jesic stated that despite assurances from farmers that their milk was safe, aflatoxin levels were “five, six to seven times higher” than acceptable in the preliminary milk tests.
He said all the results would be published in coming days when the latest test samples from independent laboratories in Germany arrive.
Jesic denied he was trying to undermine Serbian dairy farmers, saying instead he was trying to protect their interests by bringing attention to milk quality.
The aflatoxin scare began with the banning of Croatian milk earlier this month. Subsequently, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Serbia have tested for elevated levels of the toxin. Aflatoxin in milk originates with contaminated fodder.