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Confession: We Toned Down The A2 Milk Report

Tue, 17 Aug 2004

Press Release Food Safety Authority Confession: We Toned Down The A2 Milk Report

Ron Law Beyond Alternative Solutions

"The confession that the NZFSA censored the Lay Summary from the A2 Milk Report is not only confirmation of the fact that it has deliberately mislead the public of New Zealand, but has reinforced calls for an inquiry as to why they deliberately watered down the Swinburn report's message, "says Ron Law, principal of risk management consultancy Beyond Alternative Solutions.

In a cover letter accompanying the release of the censored section of the report under the Official Information Act, NZFSA Director, Dairy and Plant Products, said that the Lay Summary was not included in the final report, "as we feel that the tone is inconsistent with the substantive report."

And yet, only hours previously, on RNZ Rural News at 6.20 am, the Food Standards Director said, "... the Lay Summary didn't go into as much detail in some of the areas..." ... [we didn't] include the Lay Summary because we felt that it didn't add anything.

Either way, the NZFSA's claim that the FULL report is posted on their website is now confirmed a false and misleading statement.

"Clearly staff within the NZFSA are not singing from the same hymn sheet; they also do not understand the importance of Lay Summaries -- especially Professor Swinburn's one on A2 Milk, " says Ron Law.

Lay Summaries are written for Lay people -- not technical people. They are designed to by-pass technical gobble-de-gook and spin doctors.

Professor Swinburn felt that the balance of evidence was such that whilst there may not be enough evidence at present to warrant drastic policy changes, there was sufficient evidence to give cause for concern and that individuals, especially those most at risk, should be given the benefit of any doubt so that they can make informed choices.

The Lay Summary is what should be made available for Lay people to read for themselves, not PR spin.

Worrying questions remain.

This issue has too much at stake to allow it to pass over without an inquiry.

Why did the NZFSA ask Professor Swinburn not to apply/use the precautionary principle? [email on file]

Why did the NZFSA tone down the A2 Milk Report, as well as go the bother of reformatting the report?

Why did the NZFSA make subtle changes to the formatting of Swinburn's report? Was this to keep the pagination the same so as to mislead the media and public into believing that Censored Report was the Full Report as falsely claimed?

Why did NZFSA mislead the public of New Zealand into believing that Swinburn's Full report was released, when it wasn't?

Why did NZFSA say that the report concluded that A1 milk was safe, when it reached no such conclusion?

Why did NZFSA say that there were no safety concerns, when clearly there are? In fact, the tone of the report demonstrates that there are serious concerns regarding the safety of A1 milk.

Why did the NZFSA go to great effort to obscure or obfuscate the truth?

Why is the NZFSA not following Professor Swinburn's advice?

Why does the NZFSA still refuse to put the uncensored original and full report on its website for all to see? What does it have to hide?

Professor Swinburn's Lay Summary states...

"The A1/A2hypothesis is both intriguing and potentially very important for population health... "

"It should be taken seriously..."

"Appropriate government agencies have a responsibility to communicate the current state of evidence to the public, including the uncertainty about the evidence. "

"As a matter of individual choice, people may wish to reduce or remove A1 -casein from their diet (or their children's diet) as a precautionary measure. This may be particularly relevant for those individuals who have or are at risk of the diseases mentioned (type 1 diabetes, coronary heart disease, autism and schizophrenia). However, they should do so knowing that there is substantial uncertainty about the benefits of such an approach."

"How can individuals make an informed risk management choices concerning their own wellbeing when a government agency has failed in its duty of care?" says Ron Law. "NZFSA has not only censored a section of the report written especially for the very people the government agency was advised to inform, but it has systematically sent totally false messages regarding the safety of A1 milk to the media, public and industry"

"What confidence can New Zealanders have in a Food Safety Authority that does not communicate honestly with them?, says Ron Law [juderon@clear.net.nz].

"It is deplorable behaviour such as this that brings evidence-based risk management and the precautionary principle into disrepute -- a formal inquiry is required to restore confidence in a government agency that is supposed to be the guardians of the New Zealand food chain."

ENDS

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