Safe Food Campaign
Media release 4 December 2014
NZ BABY FOOD 800 TIMES MORE PESTICIDES THAN IN EUROPE
New Zealand baby food contained nearly 800 times more pesticides than baby food in Europe, according to a recent analysis. This evidence and why this is a risk to New Zealand babies will be presented tomorrow to the Primary Production Committee by Dr Meriel Watts of the Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa and Alison White of the Safe Food Campaign(*).
Their oral submissions are in support of a petition presented to parliament earlier this year calling for zero tolerance of pesticides in baby food.
"We want New Zealand to follow the European directives which basically stipulate a zero tolerance policy", stated Ms White. "Three of the pesticides found in New Zealand baby food are hazardous for young children and babies in the womb. Kiwi babies deserve the same level of protection as they have in the EU."
Analysis of a government study shows more than 30% of New Zealand baby food contained pesticide residues whereas less than 1% (0.04%) of European baby food did so.
Five pesticides were detected in 32 baby food samples of the last NZ Total Diet Survey of 2009, which included testing of formula, cereal based, custard/fruit and savoury weaning foods. The EU analysis of 2,062 baby foods showed residues in only 0.04% of samples in 2010.
"Some of the pesticides found are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, for which no safe level has been scientifically established, and doses thousands of times lower than those generally considered toxic are known to interfere with normal human development," said Ms White.
"Children have unique windows of vulnerability which adults do not have", said Dr Watts. "Extremely low doses which may not have an immediate effect on adults can critically interfere with children's ongoing developmental processes. This may result in lifelong alterations in growth and development, organ formation, as well as disease occurrence. One of the key outcomes of exposure to even tiny amounts of pesticides like chlorpyrifos is lowered IQ and delayed development."
Dr Watts is senior scientist for the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific, and last year published a book Poisoning our future: children and pesticides, in which she collates a substantial amount of research on why children are at risk from pesticides, even from very low doses.
The Safe Food Campaign also thinks the government should do a more extensive analysis of baby food.
"More extensive and regular surveys need to be done of baby food not only to monitor the proposed legislation but also to provide a more adequate baseline for comparison over time and with other countries," said Ms White.
WHAT: oral submission on a 4,300 signature petition to Parliament calling for zero tolerance of pesticides in baby food.
WHERE: Select Committee Room 3, Parliament House
WHEN: Thursday 4 December 11.20-11.40am
WHO: Safe Food Campaign, Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa
Enquiries: Alison White, (04) 476 8607, (021) 169 9120 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Meriel Watts, (021) 180 7830