News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Irradiated Food A Two Way Street

By John Howard Magna Carter Society

Now that the ban on irradiated food is to be lifted there is nothing to stop New Zealand dairy companies irradiating bulk milk, for instance, and exporting it in tankers to be processed into cheese, milk powder or any other dairy product in another low-cost country.

Irradiation makes this possible because, amongst other things, it preserves foods and kills bacteria without the need for chemicals or other preservation processes. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities for our food exports but whether that will be good for New Zealand jobs is another issue.

In July 1995 I was asked to present a paper on Gatt/WTO at a farmers conference in Pukekohe.

I observed that the new Gatt document is 28,000 pages long and it took me eight months reading 800 pages each week to read and digest it. The New Zealand government signed up to it yet it was never bought to Parliament for debate or ratification.

It is hard to see how New Zealand will be able to demand labelling of irradiated food, for example, because that could be construed by another country as "a restriction on international trade" or a "nontrade barrier to trade" and a successful claim to the WTO by another country could result in a penalty or trade sanctions being awarded against us.

Under Gatt/WTO rules all regulatory decisions are to be based on scientific appraisal and risk assesment. Therefore, if we cannot scientifically prove a risk we would not win.

In any event, many other countries are successfully irradiating food and that would be seen as sufficient evidence to through any claim based on unscientific perceptions out the window.

Perceived risks, or those based on emotion and rhetoric, are simply not acceptable under Gatt/WTO rules. However, many opponents of Gatt/WTO say that the barriers and standards for GE and irradiated food are being lowered so much that one day something nasty will jump over them.

It was surprising to read in the NZ Herald (6 August) New Zealand officials now claiming that pressure from Australia finally caused us to capitulate on the 10 year-old ban on irradiated food. Horse-hockey!

The government and its officials have been involved in this up to their necks for years.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland