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Work Starts on Wilkinson’s Mass Medication Plan

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Work Starts on Hon Kate Wilkinson’s Mass Medication Plan

Bakers are beginning preparations to comply with the Government’s plan to mass-mediate all New Zealanders with folic acid from September.

The Zealand Association of Bakers announced today that it will advise members to begin preparations to implement the plan, having failed to convince Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson of the risks involved in the exercise.

“We are deeply disappointed to announce this, but we need to begin preparations now to be compliant with this government mandated regulation,’’ said Laurie Powell, President of the Bakers Association.

“Minister Wilkinson’s food standard will medicate 4.4 million New Zealanders to save between one and three people from a neural tube defect. The benefits will be small as New Zealand already has one of the lowest rates of NTDs in the world.

“Our industry has suggested a very credible and effective alternative to mass medication by offering to voluntarily fortify a significant range of breads aimed at the target audience, along with an appropriate awareness advertising campaign. This has been rejected,’’ Powell said.

“The Minister’s plan is bad science and defies logic. The Minister recently confirmed that the pregnant women she is targeting will need to eat 11 slices of bread a day to get their recommended dose of folic acid.

“Women statistically aren’t big bread eaters. Targeting the small number of women at risk with folic acid supplements is a much more effective strategy than blasting the entire New Zealand population.

“We understand that her reason for championing this medical experiment is to keep Australia happy. Telling New Zealanders to “eat up for Australia” is not going to be electorally popular.

“In May, Hon Kate Wilkinson admitted that “87% of New Zealanders did not want” folic acid in bread, so many Kiwis will scratch their heads to understand why she is allowing the standard to roll out when the health benefits are so miniscule.

“In the last election she personally campaigned against nanny state government. Now as Minister she is championing a food standard that will eradicate freedom of choice, dose all New Zealanders without their consent and overlook the importance of personal responsibility for pregnant women. It’s hard to reconcile,” Powell said.

“A prudent Minister, exercising her authority under the Food Act, should at least delay implementation until the various concerns raised have been laid to rest or confirmed as both the governments in the United Kingdom and Ireland have done.

“There is still time for the Minister to act in the interests of the wider community and adopt the cooperative, targeted and voluntary initiative offered by our industry. We urge her to do so.’’


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