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Minister ignorant of serious moth spray warning

21 October, 2004

Minister ignorant of serious moth spray warning

Green MP Sue Kedgley is astonished the Biosecurity Minister isn't even aware of advice from a respected Painted Apple Moth spray researcher that all spraying should be halted until the long-term effects had been established.

Today in Parliament, Minister Jim Sutton denied any knowledge of the report by Simon Hales, the scientist who was the lead author of the Wellington School of Medicine report into the health effects of the programme.

Mr Hales latest study, entitled a Precautionary Health Risk Assessment: Case study of Biological Insecticide, was published earlier this month in the Eco Health Journal. It outlined health concerns about the bio-aerosol effects of the spray and suggested spraying should be halted until detailed follow up studies had been carried out to assess whether there are any long term effects.

"If the Minister's in ignorance, then his ministry is in denial," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Health spokesperson. "It is extraordinary that no detailed follow-up studies have been carried out of exposed populations, as called for by Dr Hales, to assess the health effects of the aerial spraying.

"I call on the Minister to guarantee that there will be no further aerial spraying until such time as these detailed studies on long-term effects have been completed."

Ms Kedgley also called on MAF to stop hounding the Hamilton community group, Watch, for $8000 court costs for seeking an injunction against the spraying of Hamilton with Foray 48B. "MAF is clearly seeking to bankrupt a community organisation that was merely seeking to protect the health of Hamilton residents by halting the spray - justifiably, as it has turned out."

Ms Kedgley said MAF had presented a misleading affidavit to the court last year during the Court case over the spraying of Foray 48B in Hamilton.

"The affidavit, reviewed by the Ministry of Health, stated that there was no new information which would suggest the health risk assessments of the spray needed to be revisited," Ms Kedgley said. "Yet, seven days earlier the Ministry of Health had received new information about serious health concerns about the aerial spray programme, from the Wellington School of Medicine.

"It is immoral and unfair of MAF to continue to pursue court costs and bankrupt a community group Watch, on the basis of a misleading affidavit, when there was new evidence of health risks available at the time."

ENDS

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