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IRRADIATION

    Action alert: irradiated foods

    In Mid-March [2003] ]the NZ government will be sending a delegation to the Codex Alimentarius meeting in Tanzania (March 17-21).

    They will be supporting the US government's attempts to remove the maximum level at which our foods can be irradiated. Currently that maximum is 10k Gr (i.e. 10,000 Gray) of absorbed radiation, but if this ceiling is removed, the sky's the limit.

    Currently our herbs and spices can be irradiated, and the NZ government has just agreed to the irradiation of tropical fruit from Australia - coming to a shelf near you soon. So it is very important that we stop the rot and don't let this already very bad situation get even worse.

    Countries wanting to remove the irradiation limit: USA, Australia, NZ, Philippines, Thailand, Argentina, Brazil, China, India, and the irradiation industry.

    Countries wanting to retain the limit: EU, Japan, South Korea, and Consumers International.

    Why say no to removing the upper limit?

    Irradiation causes permanent changes to the food - partially destroying Vitamins A, C, E and thiamine, as well as fatty acids that are crucial for health. Even worse it creates chemicals called cyclobutanones. Some of these are have been recently shown to cause genetic and cellular damage in rats and humans. Others have not even been tested yet.

    Animal feeding trials using irradiated food have also shown reproductive and development problems, including carcinomas of the pituitary gland, a particularly disturbing finding since this is an extremely rare type of malignant tumour.

    The NZ delegation is ignoring these findings.

    An children are likely to be especially vulnerable to the effects of these essentially untested but potentially toxic chemicals.

    Irradiation of our food is not needed - there are far less harmful methods of ensuring that the food we eat is wholesome, healthy and not harbouring insect pests.

    Action! Write to:

    Mr S. Rajasekar
    Codex Coordinator and Contact Point for New Zealand
    New Zealand Food Safety Authority
    68-86 Jervois Quay
    PO Box 2835
    WELLINGTON
    Fax: 04 463 2583
    E-mail: rajasaekars@nzfsa.govt.nz

    Instruct the Codex delegation that NZ consumers do not want the maximum level of absorbed radiation removed, or increased.

    Source: sue.kedgley@parliament.govt.nz

    21 February 2003

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