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Auckland spray is “probably carcinogenic”

Weed Management Advisory – Media Release – 22nd March 2015

The World Health Organisation’s cancer research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has this week re-classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

The IARC reassessment published in the Journal Lancet Oncology is a wake- up call for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport says the Weed Management Advisory group (WMA).

Speaking from New York where she is one of the authors of UNEP’s forthcoming global assessment of gender and the environment, Dr Meriel Watts said that the use of this chemical on the roads, parks and sports fields in Auckland cannot now continue in the face of this latest damning assessment.

“For more than 25 years we have known of the evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer. But the regulators in New Zealand, and in other countries, have refused to heed it. As a result, countless numbers of children have been exposed to this chemical from roadside weed spraying as they walk to school, and in the parks and sports fields where they play” said Dr Watts.

“Children are particularly susceptible to carcinogens”.

Dr Watts, who is a scientist and author has published several authoritative books on the subject of pesticides and cancer including her 2013 “Poisoning Our Future: Children and Pesticides” which details the scientific evidence for the insidious effects of pesticides on children.

“Children are not little adults. The activities they do make them more prone to accumulate pesticides in their bodies; and their developing bodies make them more prone to the negative effects of these toxic chemicals like glyphosate. Yet, governments and industry overlook these impacts on children’s health despite the availability of safer alternatives.”

The WMA says that they have been documenting, detailing and promoting these safer alternatives for years and that Auckland Council and Auckland Transport must wake-up now, drop their baffling and disturbing opposition to nonchemical weed management, and stop using glyphosate.

“It is totally unacceptable to continue to expose people, and especially children, to glyphosate in light of this ruling from the IARC,” said Dr Watts. She emphasised that the IARC is a conservative scientific body “and if they say that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen we can be sure that it is”.

The WMA said they will be pursuing this urgently with Auckland Council, especially in view of the fact that the Long Term Plan budget proposes dropping nonchemical weed control in favour of increasing the use of pesticides.

Hana Blackmore said this flies in the face of all reason, Council’s own adopted policy, and the 2014 Human Rights Impact Assessment that confirms that continuing to expose Aucklanders to these toxic chemical sprays is a violation of their human rights.

“Both Auckland Council and Auckland Transport have a fundamental duty to keep people safe and protect their health and wellbeing. They need to take this latest UN Report and our human rights seriously, and eliminate these chemicals from our environment and our children’s lives” said Hana Blackmore.

The WMA will be presenting to Auckland Council before Easter.

Lancet article is here: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(15)70134-8/fulltext

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Food Matters Aotearoa Conference

GEFreeFoodMatters-logoImportant conference on the future of food and farming in New Zealand

Find out more at: http://www.foodconference.co.nz/

WELLINGTON CONFERENCE,
TE PAPA TONGAREWA
14-15 FEBRUARY 2015

Register now to hear a range of top International and National speakers who are experts in their fields – modern agriculture; agroecology; food safety; policy development; ecosystem sustainability and seed biodiversity – about the challenges we face and solutions

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NZ Baby food contains 800 times more pesticide than in Europe!

Safe Food Campaign media release 4 December 2014

New Zealand baby food contained nearly 800 times more pesticides than baby food in Europe, according to a recent analysis. This evidence and why this is a risk to New Zealand babies will be presented tomorrow to the Primary Production Committee by Dr Meriel Watts of the Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa and Alison White of the Safe Food Campaign(*).

Their oral submissions are in support of a petition presented to parliament earlier this year calling for zero tolerance of pesticides in baby food.

“We want New Zealand to follow the European directives which basically stipulate a zero tolerance policy”, stated Ms White. “Three of the pesticides found in New Zealand baby food are hazardous for young children and babies in the womb. Kiwi babies deserve the same level of protection as they have in the EU.”

Analysis of a government study shows more than 30% of New Zealand baby food contained pesticide residues whereas less than 1% (0.04%) of European baby food did so.

Five pesticides were detected in 32 baby food samples of the last NZ Total Diet Survey of 2009, which included testing of formula, cereal based, custard/fruit and savoury weaning foods. The EU analysis of 2,062 baby foods showed residues in only 0.04% of samples in 2010.

“Some of the pesticides found are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, for which no safe level has been scientifically established, and doses thousands of times lower than those generally considered toxic are known to interfere with normal human development,” said Ms White.

“Children have unique windows of vulnerability which adults do not have”, said Dr Watts. “Extremely low doses which may not have an immediate effect on adults can critically interfere with children’s ongoing developmental processes. This may result in lifelong alterations in growth and development, organ formation, as well as disease occurrence. One of the key outcomes of exposure to even tiny amounts of pesticides like chlorpyrifos is lowered IQ and delayed development.”

Dr Watts is senior scientist for the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific, and last year published a book Poisoning our future: children and pesticides, in which she collates a substantial amount of research on why children are at risk from pesticides, even from very low doses.

The Safe Food Campaign also thinks the government should do a more extensive analysis of baby food.

“More extensive and regular surveys need to be done of baby food not only to monitor the proposed legislation but also to provide a more adequate baseline for comparison over time and with other countries,” said Ms White.

WHAT: oral submission on a 4,300 signature petition to Parliament calling for zero tolerance of pesticides in baby food.

WHERE: Select Committee Room 3, Parliament House

WHEN: Thursday 4 December 11.20-11.40am

WHO: Safe Food Campaign, Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa

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