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Irradiated food deal signed before ANZFA go ahead

Irradiated food deal signed before ANZFA drops flag - Greens

24 February 2002 Irradiated food deal signed before ANZFA drops flag

Green Party Safe Food spokesperson Sue Kedgley today said Turners and Growers have jumped the gun in signing off a deal to import irradiated tropical fruits from Queensland.

"Turners and Growers have signed up to this deal before the Australian New Zealand Food Authority has even made a final decision about whether to allow the importation of irradiated tropical fruits into New Zealand: mango, papaya breadfruit, carambola, custard apple, litchi, longan, mangosteen and rambutan.

"Either Turners and Growers are taking a big commercial risk in launching this joint venture so early, or they have had a nod and a wink from ANZFA that it will get the green light shortly," said Ms Kedgley.

The Herald has revealed that Turners and Growers are working with SureBeam Corporation, an affiliate of defense contractor Titan Corp, to build an electron beam and x-ray facility in Northern Australia and import irradiated tropical fruits into New Zealand.

SureBeam uses linear accelerator 'E-beam' technology, originally developed for the 'Star Wars' programme, to shoot food with a stream of electrons travelling at the speed of light.

Ms Kedgley said food irradiation was a highly controversial technique which damages the molecular structure of food, destroys vitamins and nutrients in food and forms unique chemicals that are suspected to cause cancer and birth defects.

Ms Kedgley said importing irradiated tropical fruit from Queensland was an idiotic idea. "Consumers don't want to eat fresh fruit that has been irradiated," she said.

"And why on earth would we want to import tropical fruit from Queensland anyway, when it is crawling with fruit flies - often called the 'foot and mouth' of horticulture - and when we can get the same tropical fruits from other countries which don't need to use this controversial technology."

"If any fruit fly larvae managed to get through the irradiation process, we would face a huge horticultural disaster," said Ms Kedgley.

Ms Kedgley said she was also concerned that the ANZFA proposal would allow tropical fruit to be irradiated at much higher doses than even the USA allowed. And irradiated fruit would not be individually labelled -there would only be a requirement for a sign near to a package of fruit indicating it had been 'treated with ionising electrons.' Many consumers would not understand this meant the fruit had been irradiated, she said.

ENDS

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