Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Inaccurate Journalism Damaging To NZ Economy

The editor and publisher of Healthy Options magazine owe the people of New Zealand an apology for their scare-mongering, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The magazine published an article in this month's issue alleging that fertiliser contaminated by nuclear tests on Christmas Island was being spread on Waikato farms, endangering people's health on shipping wharves and on farms, as well as that of consumers.

In fact, the magazine had confused Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, where phosphates used in fertilisers are mined, with Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean, where nuclear tests were carried out in the 1950s. The islands are thousands of kilometres away from each other.

As well, the article quotes laboratory tests, which officials said were alarming.

These tests were done on the understanding that the samples being tested were soil samples. They were fertiliser samples, so the higher readings were not as alarming as they appeared.

Uranium, a natural element present in the environment, occurs about 1.1 to 2.3 parts per million in New Zealand soil naturally.

It is present in superphosphate (around 40 parts per million) and in naturally reactive rock phosphate (between 15 to 148 parts per million) used in many higher rainfall areas and on organic farms.

Given typical annual fertiliser application rates and assuming a level of 45 parts of uranium per million, it would take 50 years of fertiliser application to arable farms to accumulate 0.6 parts per million of uranium. It would take 325 years to accumulate the same amount on dairy farms.

While uranium and phosphate fertiliser will add to the natural level of uranium in the soil, in New Zealand it will take nearly 1000 years to double uranium levels. Even then, New Zealand soils would have the same rating as United States soils do now.

There is no threat to food safety from any approved fertiliser used in New Zealand.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand had not always been as clean and green as would ideally be the case, but the government and farmers had worked hard and were continuing to work hard to ensure sustainable practices were used.

"Farmers, like other right-minded New Zealanders, want to leave this country in good shape for their children and grandchildren.

"Journalism such as this, with basic errors, does New Zealand a disservice and gives those who wish to block our agricultural products in international markets an excuse. Healthy Options owes farmers, fertiliser companies, and New Zealand an apology."

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation

Friday will be a big day for people north of Kaikōura – and for hundreds of construction workers who are racing to reopen State Highway 1 in time for the holiday season.

By the afternoon, the South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>

 

BPS HYEFU WYSIWYG: Labour's Budget Plans, Families Package

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Defence Spending, Alabama, And Dolly Parton

The spending lavished on Defence projects to meet the risks that could maybe, possibly, theoretically face New Zealand in future is breath-taking, given how successive governments have been reluctant to spend even a fraction of those amounts on the nation’s actual social needs. More>>

ALSO:

Members' Bills: End Of Life Choice Bill Passes First Reading

The End of Life Choice Bill in the name of David Seymour has been sent to a select committee for consideration by 76 votes to 44. It is the third time Parliament has voted on the issue in recent decades and the first time such a Bill has made it over the first hurdle. More>>

ALSO:

State Sector: MPI Survives Defrag Of Portfolios

The Ministry for Primary Industries will not be split under the new government, but will instead serve as an overarching body for four portfolio-based entities focused on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Vulnerable Kids, RNZ Funding, And Poppy

The decision to remove the word ‘vulnerable’ from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children could well mark a whole shift in approach to the care of children in need... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages