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Greens say latest diet survey shocking

31 March 2000

Greens say lastest diet survey shocking

Green MP Sue Kedgley is shocked at a new report which found nearly two-thirds of food is contaminated with pesticide residues.

The latest Total Diet Survey released yesterday confirmed that pesticide residues are found in 59% of the food they tested, a 3% increase from the previous 1991 survey.

"Children are especially vulnerable to the health effects of pesticides," said Ms Kedgley. " Research in America has found that childhood exposure to pesticides can lead to a greater risk of chronic effects, including cancer, later on in life." Ms Kedgley was alarmed that DDE residues, a metabolite of the banned pesticide DDT, are still being found in chicken, eggs, fish, meat and dairy products, and most other foods of animal origin. "These residues end up in the fatty tissue of the human body where they can remain for years, and they have been linked to cancer, birth defects, decreased fertility and hormonal and immune system damage," she said.

DDT has been banned for 20 years because of its devastating effects on human health and the environment, but the DDE metabolite persists in the environment for decades.

Ms Kedgley urged the Ministry of Health to carry out a thorough investigation into the source of DDT residue found in a sample of eggs, which the report said suggested recent use or contamination of an egg production operation with DDT.

Ms Kedgley was also concerned at the high levels of residues of the controversial dithiocarbamates in fruit and vegetables. "These insecticides contain a nasty breakdown product which can disrupt the hormonal system, even in tiny amounts," she said. "The breakdown product ETU is also implicated in cancer, genetic damage and birth defects."

Ms Kedgley said the study highlighted the urgent need in New Zealand for a pesticide reduction strategy.

"If we are serious about improving the health of New Zealanders, we would not allow this amount of our food to be contaminated with pesticide residue levels," she said. "Pesticides are associated with a wide range of health effects, including cancer and birth defects."

Sue Kedgley MP: (04) 470 6728 or 025 270 9088 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: (04) 470 6723 or 021 1265 289


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