The Green Party's primary production spokesperson Steffan Browning says hundreds of cows which have died or fallen ill in Southland after eating herbicide tolerant swedes should be tested to see if herbicide residues in the plants killed them.
Vets say autopsies are showing signs of significant liver damage and in some cases kidney damage in the cows. In most cases, the animals had been grazing on herbicide tolerant (HT) swedes.
Mr Browning said this coincides with growing international concern about animal deaths after they have been fed HT crops.
The crops are designed to be sprayed with herbicides to control weeds, but the crop survives, he said.
"It also picks up high levels of the residue of the herbicide in the plant. That's then fed to an animal and they have these health effects that seem to be the same as with the GE-fed animals overseas.
"There's been studies - everything from rats that have the liver damage we've been hearing about with these swede eating cows," he said.
"That's why we need the people who have been doing the autopsies and the research to be looking for the herbicide and or its metabolites within these animals."