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Government Must Test Food from China - Now

Government Must Test Food from China - Now

Green MP and Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley is calling on the Government to urgently begin testing food imported from China, and other countries for residues of toxic pesticides. "Last year we imported a sizeable $84 million dollars worth of food from China and none of it was tested for pesticide residues," Ms Kedgley says..

Tests reported by Greenpeace China between November 2005 and April 2006 on vegetable and fruit samples grown in China revealed them to be commonly contaminated with illegal and toxic pesticides. Of the 85 samples tested, 86 per cent contained residues and 25 per cent contained residues of illegal pesticides. The illegal organochlorine Lindane, for instance was found in 70 per cent of tomato samples."How much Lindane and how many other dangerous poisons ended up in the $2 million of canned or preserved tomatoes we imported from China last year?" Ms Kedgley says.

"Lindane is banned in many countries, including New Zealand, because of its environmental persistence. It causes liver cancer in laboratory animals and is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as being "possibly carcinogenic in humans". It is also a known endocrine disruptor, interfering with the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and causing the growth of human breast cancer cells.

"Tangerines from China were found to contain a cocktail of toxic residues, including DDT and other banned and dangerous substances. How can New Zealand consumers possibly know if those residues are also in the citrus we import from China, if the New Zealand Food Safety Authority doesn't test them?" Ms Kedgley says.

"It is outrageous that New Zealand consumers have to rely on Greenpeace China to tell us what residues might be in our imported food. No wonder so many consumers want country of origin labelling - as that is the only way they can hope to avoid these toxic residues."

Ms Kedgley said it was extraordinary that New Zealand did not randomly test its imported food. " The time has come for the Government to randomly test all imported food - as many other countries already do - so that it can assure New Zealand consumers that imported foods are not contaminated," Ms Kedgley says.

Ends

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