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Nuked mangoes slipping through MAF's back door


Nuked mangoes slipping through MAF's back door

Green MP Sue Kedgley alleged today that an important document that would permit irradiated Australian mangoes into New Zealand is being hidden from the public.

In response to a written question from Ms Kedgley, the Minister of Agriculture said a draft import health standard to permit irradiated mangoes to enter New Zealand was "in the public domain for consultation".

However, the document appears only to have been published on MAF's website. "Putting a document on the website does not constitute public consultation, especially on something as important as the importation of irradiated food into New Zealand," said Ms Kedgley, the Green spokesperson for Food Safety.

"The Ministry of Agriculture's public consultation process doesn't seem to involve bothering to inform the public - while quietly preparing to receive shipments of irradiated fruit that could devastate our horticulture.

"MAF's consultation process is a sham. It seems that when it comes to food, this Government doesn't want the public to know what they're eating."

Ms Kedgley said it was absurd that the Government is about to allow irradiated mangoes to be imported here when we are already importing non-irradiated mangoes from other parts of the world, and when there are other successful heat treatments for mangoes that did not require irradiation.

Ms Kedgley warned that importing mangoes from fruit-fly infested Queensland could devastate New Zealand's horticulture industry. * Irradiation might not kill all the insects or their larvae, although it should ensure the remaining ones are unable to breed. However intentional or not, the importation of sterile fruit flies could be a breach of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO). * The risk of importing 10 species of fruit-fly and 44 other quarantine pests along with the mangoes was significant in the event that irradiation machinery failed: a failure of a machine to irradiate screw worm in Mexico caused the release of four million live male worms that killed 500 cattle.

"Imagine the devastation if some viable fruit-fly or any of the other 44 quarantine pests associated with mangoes slipped through as a result of a bad day at the Australian food-nuking plant," said Ms Kedgley.

"Why does MAF seem so eager to import irradiated mango from Queensland, otherwise known as the fruit-fly capital of the world, when there are perfectly satisfactory alternatives available?" she asked.

"Have we been forced to accept these Australian mangoes because we were outvoted on Food Standards Australia New Zealand Council?"

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