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Decision to Import Australian Tomatoes Slammed

Wednesday May 29, 2002

Soil & Health Slams Government Decision to Import Australian Tomatoes

The Soil & Health Association today condemns the decision by the government to allow unfettered importation of Australian tomatoes.

"There are three issues at stake," said the Association¹s Director, Dr Meriel Watts.

"Of first importance is the health of NZ consumers. These Australian tomatoes are treated with a very toxic organophosphate insecticide called dimethoate. In small quantities it can severely affect the nervous system, damage the immune system, and cause reproductive problems. Ingestion of any amount should be avoided. You cannot wash this insecticide off, it permeates the tomato. Responsible shop owners should label their Australian tomatoes so that consumers can avoid them."

"Secondly, importing these tomatoes when we don¹t need them creates yet another biosecurity risk ­ this time of fruit fly ­ at a time when the government is still aerial spraying Auckland to get rid of the other Australian import, the Painted Apple Moth".

"Thirdly, as New Zealanders, we should be supporting our own growers who struggle to compete against the cheap Australian contaminated imports. Buy local and help keep our own growers in business. They do not dip their tomatoes in dimethoate."

Meriel Watts, PhD Director Soil & Health Association of NZ Inc

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