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Ombudsman's Report vindicates the People's Inquiry

*MEDIA RELEASE***

*Government Suppression of *

*Aerial Spraying Health Effects Exposed *

Ombudsman's Report vindicates the People's Inquiry

Less than one month after the Minister of Biosecurity denigrated and dismissed the People's Inquiry Report of the impacts and effects of aerial spraying pesticide to eradicate the Painted Apple Moth, a four year investigation by the Ombudsman has independently reached the same conclusions.

Hana Blackmore, Convenor of the People's Inquiry said today that last month's disrespectful response from both the Biosecurity Minister, Jim Anderton and the Prime Minister was another example of the manner in which the Government was seeking to continue to suppress the unpalatable facts about the health effects of the aerial spraying.

"Now we have this Report from the Office of the Ombudsmen that only confirms our experience" said Ms Blackmore. "His Report is replete with examples of the way in which the Ministries have attempted to spin the truth and conceal the problems."

"First they portray the spray as perfectly safe, then they belittle and dismiss the health effects that arise, and finally when respected scientists and doctors investigate and begin to report real concerns and possible pathways of exposure and effect, they are disparaged, their credentials questioned and their Reports sidelined or suppressed."

Ms Blackmore said that the Minister of Biosecurity's response today that it was unlikely that any of the Ombudsman's recommendations would be implemented, was a stark illustration of this continuing denial and suppression of the truth.

Dr MerielWatts, author of a critical 2003 Report of the Painted Apple Moth Health Risk Assessment highlighted in the Ombudsman's report, said that given the Ombudsman's findings the Government can no longer turn a blind eye to the situation.

"It must urgently institute long term health monitoring of people exposed in all three spray programmes that were investigated in this Report" she said.

"The Ombudsman has made perfectly clear that reassurances from the Government that there was no evidence of serious long term health effects of the spray Foray 48B were not acceptable. No research into the long-term effects have ever been conducted, and his recommendation was that this was a matter that should "/receive the Ministry's urgent attention./" Said Dr Watts.

Hana Blackmore commended Jane Schaverien and other member's of the Stop Aerial Spraying Group for their persistence and stubbornness in pursuing this complaint for nearly five years.

"They have our thanks for all their hard work on behalf of the community. The fact that the Government will not find it easy to ignore the findings from the Office of the Ombudsman, whatever Jim Anderton says, means that we finally have the opportunity to implement changes that will benefit not only the people affected in the past, but to the future operation of such eradication campaigns."

ENDS

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