A pesticide that has been linked to breast cancer needs to be banned, say several community groups. The pesticide, endosulfan, is already banned in at least 20 countries.
The pesticide is at the top of the priority list of hazardous substances that the groups say the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) ought to reassess. ERMA is calling for submissions on which hazardous substances should be given priority reassessment by this Tuesday 30th January.
The groups, Safe Food Campaign, Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa, the Soil and Health Association and the Breast Cancer Network, point out that usage of this pesticide remains high in New Zealand, in spite of research linking it to adverse health and environmental effects. Apart from breast cancer, the insecticide has been linked to hormonal disruption, mimicking oestrogen and producing infertility, as well as foetal, gene, neurological, behavioural and immune system damage at very low doses. It persists in the environment and has been found in groundwater, soil and human breast milk.
“This antiquated organochlorine is long past its use-by-date”, said Dr Meriel Watts of Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa. “Many other countries have found safer alternatives and it is long past time we did too. It has devastated exposed communities overseas, causing many deaths and birth defects. It can cause breast cancer cells to proliferate at very, very low doses, and yet it is turning up in our food supply at increasing levels. It simply has to go. We have one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world and we must do everything we can to reduce exposure to chemicals that increase the risk of breast cancer”.
“We also urgently want to get chlorpyrifos and all other organophosphates banned”, stated Alison White of the Safe Food Campaign. “Research published last month shows that 3-year-old children exposed to chlorpyrifos suffer nerve and mental damage as well as increased attention deficit disorder. A lot of very recent research reveals disturbing damage to the prenatal brain. Several overseas authorities, including the USA, EU, Canada and Australia, impose stringent restrictions on this insecticide and other organophosphates”, she added.
“2,4-D, the other half of Agent Orange, is still aerially sprayed and used a lot in New Zealand”, said Steffan Browning, Soil and Health Association spokesperson. “It causes a lot of spraydrift complaints and needs to be banned. It has caused severe economic losses and serious health effects to a number of farmers and their families, resulting in some of them giving up farming. Research has linked this herbicide to prenatal brain damage, breast and other cancers, and it has been shown to have an effect on hormones”, said Mr Browning. “Continuing dioxin contamination of 2,4-D causes even further effects.”
“Growers urgently need to stop using these damaging pesticides and change to more sustainable ways of growing which don’t damage our health, environment and New Zealand’s clean green reputation”, concluded Mr Browning.