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Sue Kedgley Urges Action Over Tomato Antibiotics

Oct 11, 1999

Sue Kedgley Urges Action Over Fruit/Tomato Antibiotics
Fruit and vege. antibiotics should be phased out, Greens say

The practice of spraying fruit and tomatoes with antibiotics should be phased out, the Green Party said today.

Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said the current controversy over antibiotics and hospital "superbugs" was focussed on medicinal antibiotics and on antibiotic growth promotants fed to pork and poultry.

"The debate needs to be widened," she said today. "Each year in New Zealand, 1.2 tonnes of the antibiotic streptomycin is sprayed onto fruit trees and tomato plants to control fireblight.

"Since fruit and tomatoes are eaten raw, any antibiotic residues remaining on them could be transferred into the human gut flora. Any resistant bacteria could pass on their resistance to other bacteria.

"There is at present no testing to detect whether antibiotic residues are present on fruit and tomatoes that have been sprayed with antibiotics," Ms Kedgley said.

At a time of spreading antibiotic resistance, all unnecessary use of antibiotics should be phased out, she said.

"Instead of using them routinely in agriculture and horticulture, we should seek other, more sustainable solutions, such as those used by organic farmers. There is no point in putting the health of all New Zealanders at risk for short term profitability." A report by the EU Scientific Steering Committee had found resistance to streptomycin occurring in bacteria associated with apple and pear trees, Ms Kedgley said.

ENDS

Sue Kedgley ph 04 3849123, fax 04 3849124
Paul Bensemann, Press Secretary 021 214 2665

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