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Government serves up nuked dessert

Government serves up nuked dessert

Green MP Sue Kedgley today criticised the Government for giving final approval for irradiation to be used as a quarantine treatment for mangoes, paving the way for the import of irradiated mangoes into New Zealand.

"MAF's approval of irradiation as a quarantine treatment for tropical fruit is the final clearance Australian exporters need to export irradiated mangoes to New Zealand," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Party's spokesperson for Food Safety.

"Australian mango growers are desperate to export their fruitfly-infested fruit to New Zealand, and in giving approval for this, the Government has put the interests of the $90 million Queensland mango industry ahead of New Zealand consumers who do not want to eat irradiated food.

"It's bizarre that MAF has approved irradiation as a quarantine treatment for treating fruitfly-infected Australian mangoes when heat treatment is perfectly effective as a quarantine treatment for fruit fly. New Zealand could import non-irradiated mangoes from other countries."

Ms Kedgley joined with Democratic and Green politicians and anti-irradiation campaigners in Australia to launch a trans-Tasman Campaign against Irradiated Food in Brisbane last week.

She questioned why New Zealand food companies would be interested in peddling irradiated food when they know that it destroyed vitamins and enzymes in fruit, and creates new chemicals which may be carcinogenic.

"I'm astonished that Turners and Growers, a company with a long track record in supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to New Zealanders, was pushing ahead with plans to import irradiated tropical fruit into New Zealand.

"They must realise there is no consumer demand for their irradiated fruit and that their reputation as a fresh producer supplier will be tarnished by their involvement in irradiated produce," Ms Kedgley said.

Turners and Growers are part-owners of a company, Horticulture Access Solutions, which is building an irradiation facility in Cairns, initially for the purpose of irradiating tropical fruit for export to New Zealand.

"It must be of real concern to New Zealand consumers that our food manufacturers and importers are looking toward irradiation when there are perfectly satisfactory alternatives such as heat treatments available to sterilise fruit. "Imagine the devastation if some viable fruit fly slipped into New Zealand should irradiation fail to kill all the insects or their larvae," she said.

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