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Sue Kedgley to visit Australian irradiation plant

Sue Kedgley to visit Australian irradiation facility

Green MP Sue Kedgley will tour an irradiation plant today at 1pm (3pm New Zealand time) in Brisbane, Australia. The irradiation plant is owned by Steritech, which is gearing up to irradiate tropical fruit from Queensland for export to New Zealand.

Australian Senator John Cherry will accompany Ms Kedgley on her visit.

Ms Kedgley, the Green Party's Safe Food spokesperson, will be holding a press conference with Senator Cherry, Green Senate candidate Dru Hutton and anti-irradiation campaigners in Australia to launch a trans-Tasman campaign against irradiation.

"I will be informing Australians, and those proposing to export irradiated tropical fruit to New Zealand, that New Zealand consumers do not want to eat irradiated tropical fruit that has been nuked," said Ms Kedgley.

"Irradiation is an unproven and controversial food technology that sterilises food by exposing it to doses of radiation from 100,000 to 3,000,000 times the strength of an X-ray."

Ms Kedgley said that new evidence has emerged showing that chemicals formed during irradiation may cause DNA damage and colon cancer. The potentially carcinogenic chemicals are found in irradiated mango and pawpaw, Ms Kedgley said.

Also of concern is that there are no limits on the dose of irradiation that can be applied to food, so the Steritech will be free to irradiate food as much as they like.

"Why on earth would our government allow irradiated mangoes and other tropical fruit to be imported from Queensland, otherwise knows as the fruit-fly capital of the world, when there are perfectly satisfactory alternative treatments such as heat treatments available to sterilise fruit," she said.

"Imagine the devastation to New Zealand if some viable fruit fly slipped into New Zealand should irradiation fail to kill all the insects or their larvae."

Sue Kedgley visits Steritech irradiation facility Brisbane, Australia 1pm (Aust EST) Friday, April 16.

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