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Use of Toxic Chemicals to Clean up Unacceptable

The SOIL & HEALTH Assn of NZ (Inc)
http://www.organicnz.pl.net


Healthy Soil - Healthy Food - Healthy People

Media Statement for Immediate Release: Tuesday, 16 October

Use of Toxic Chemicals to Clean up after GM Unacceptable

The Soil & Health Association is shocked to discover that the only method apparently available to cleanup after a GM field trail is that of a highly toxic and antiquated chemical.

Chloropicrin, being used to fumigate the soil at HortResearch¹s tamarillo site in Northland is a highly toxic chemical that was developed in 1917. The US military have used it in chemical warfare.

"It kills virtually everything", said Dr Meriel Watts, Director of the Soil & Health Association of NZ. "It kills beneficial insects, earthworms, plants, people, as well as bacteria and fungi and nematodes. The vast majority of organisms that it kills are beneficial, not harmful. It is an outrage that this is the best that HortResearch can provide."

"That the much vaunted finesse of the genetic modification process ultimately has to rely on the indiscriminate instrument of a highly toxic chemical that acts like a blunderbuss, says a lot about science¹s inability to control their new technology" said Dr Watts.

The Soil & Health Association wants an immediate stop to field trials of genetically modified plants or animals in New Zealand until scientists have developed a more environmentally, and human, friendly method of cleaning up after them.

Chloropicrin is an extremely toxic, chlorinated chemical that should not be used in New Zealand at all. Apart from the acute effects observed in those people recently exposed in the Hawkes Bay, there may also be long term, chronic effects on respiratory, eye, skin, heart, gastro-intestinal and musculo-skeletal systems, as well as lethargy, and cancer. Occupational exposure to this chemical is thought to have caused a potentially fatal condition known as rhabdomyolosis, which is marked by degeneration of skeletal muscles. Exposure to chloropicrin has also been linked to recurrent asthma, pulmonary oedema, anaemia and irregular heartbeat. The toxicological data on its mutagenicity and carcinogenicity is widely regarded as being equivocal: it may or may not cause cancer. It is highly toxic to the aquatic environment.

For further information contact:

Dr Meriel Watts

Director Soil & Health Association of NZ Inc Ph/Fax: 09-480-4440 (Home: 09-3788-244) m.watts@organicnz.pl.net


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