Chemicals remain in our foods

The Environmental Protection Authority is effectively the Chemical Promotions Authority with its decision yesterday allowing continued use of all organophosphate (OP) and pesticides currently used in New Zealand, although safer alternatives exist.

Although some will be phased out between 2 and 15 years, the only banned OP chemicals are those no longer in use.

Organophosphates have neurotoxic and reproductive effects, some at very low doses, but apart from the important restriction on home garden use (except from the lawns of the rich using an approved applicator) it is effectively business as usual in our chemical paradise.

The EPA is following the same path as always, playing down the serious risks to people and the environment and will only stop use of these dangerous chemicals when our trading partners call a halt. The organophosphate chlorpyrifos, has been found to interfere with the brain and central nervous system, with the prenatal brain being especially vulnerable to low doses. One published study published showed that children with higher levels of the organophosphate insecticides in their urine were more likely to have ADHD.

Diazinon, which is a major cause of bird death has been given 15 years of further use, and chlorpyrifos which is environmentally persistent in the same way as endosulfan and DDT, now banned, has no phase out. For example, clorpyrifos is found in the Arctic continuing its ecological damage, long after its original application.

New Zealand only banned endosulfan following threats to market access when meat exports to Korea we’re found to include traces of endosulfan. Clearly chlorpyrifos and diazinon use will continue until our trading partners demand a halt, not because the EPA is doing its real job as an Environmental Protection Authority. The countries of the European Union are all embarking on developing national pesticide reduction policies, and once again New Zealand is lagging behind.

The EPA has suggested controls to reduce the inevitable harm to people, birds and bees, but there is little chance of wide compliance. Alternative solutions to organophosphates exist and many farmers and growers do not use them, but the EPA Chemical Promotions Authority has bowed to the self-interest and short term approach to primary production.

10 Comments Posted

  1. I am amazed and frustrated that the general public is not more outraged over this. There are serious health and environmental risks involved and most would rather treat the symptoms by over medicating themselves and their children instead of preventing these issues at the source. The longevity of our civilization is tied greatly to our diet, so to willingly modify this in a way that is proven to have long-term health risks seems down right ignorant.

  2. I don’t think the EPA is “downplaying” the risk. Rather, it’s up to the consumer to understand what they are eating and the risks attached.

    Read the labels. Don’t eat it if it has anything harmful.

    The EPA was right in not banning the chemicals use. It’s not up to them to decide what we can and can not eat. The individual needs to make his own educated choice.

  3. It is true; we live in a world where “TL;DR” is endemic; you gotta catch the eyeballs at outset.

  4. OK, basic media knowledge: the headline is the first, most important and often only thing that people read. A bad headline will cost you anything up to 90% of readers, a good headline will draw readers in.

    Anti-science headlines don’t help your cause, they reinforce the dynamic that says science and technology are inherently suspect to The Greens. I would rather see The Greens obviously using scientific research to back up their claims, and base more policy on sound science.

    While you can argue about what people mean when they say “chemical”, the best you can say is that this is perpetuating the linguistic problem you’re using as an excuse. It puts the author clearly in the camp of “people who beleive all chemicals are bad”, to wit, the ones for whom science is a closed book. Like the staffer in Sue Kedgley’s office who issued a press release in support of a ban on dihydrogen monoxide not so long ago.

    It’s not even entertaining, it just makes people wince. And too many of my friends look at me and say “You support this idiot! Why?”.

  5. “Just the title shows this is complete unscientific hogwash!”

    I guess that’s why you didn’t read any further..

  6. Sometimes I think the Greens are a reasonable and rational party, then someone posts a blog like this. Just the title shows this is complete unscientific hogwash!

    I’m guessing this Browning guy will be quietly slid down the list next election to make way for someone more useful.

  7. Sue is quite right. It is not only nitpicking but ignorance of the different levels of discourse used in language. In standard English usage, “chemical” and “organic” have different meanings than they do to a chemist. “Work” and “power” also have different meanings for a physicist, and “assets” and “liabilities” to an accountant.

  8. I too would like to eat food that has no pesticides/fertilisers or other toxic chemicals in.. but short of becoming totally self-sufficient, its difficult to see it. The fascinating thing being NZ promoting a CLEAN, Green image to the world.. how farcical !

    You have to wonder why the reported levels of ADHD & other ‘disfunctional’ illnesses are apparently on the increase ? I think that all these toxins in food could well contribute to brain chemical in-balances, especially in children


  9. Oops I didn’t mean to give thumbs up on Moz’s comment, rather a thumbs down…….that’s just nit-picking, the language used clearly describes what the problem is. The entire universe is made up of chemicals if you really want to go down that track.

  10. Please change the headline. All food is made entirely of chemicals. Without chemicals in your food you couldn’t even call yourself a breatharian, you’d be living entirely on woo. This is the sort of nonsense that makes it hard on the scientifically literate Green members like me.

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