Endosulfan: NZ exports at risk – is ERMA listening?

The highly toxic pesticide endosulfan, found in residues all over the world in food, people and the environment, has turned up again in NZ beef exported to Korea, and not surprisingly Korea is not happy.

“But is ERMA listening,” asked Dr Meriel Watts of Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand. “In their reassessment document released last week ERMA have proposed on-going use of endosulfan on a number of crops, including fodder crops that are fed directly to animals. It is well established in science that residues from such crops can subsequently turn up in the meat of such animals – and in the milk, which may not make Fonterra happy either.”

“New Zealand sells its produce with a clean, green, pure, natural, branding image that is contradicted by actual practices, such as using one of the dirtiest pesticides in the world in our food supply. Sooner or later the global markets are going to catch on to this hypocrisy and New Zealand can expect a much tougher time making the image stick,” said Dr Watts.

“Endosulfan has been banned in 55 countries around the world already, including all the European Union countries. ERMA’s proposed decision to continue its use here could see us being one of the last in the world to keep using this persistent and bio-accumulative pollutant.”

“If New Zealand’s meat producers want to keep their markets open, then they might need to consider asking ERMA and the Minister for the Environment to get rid of this nasty once and for all,” said Steffan Browning of the Soil & Health Association.

“We support the Green Party’s call for the Minister for the Environment to override ERMA and urge Federated Farmers, Fonterra and the Meat Industry to add their voices, so they can protect their export markets.”

“If New Zealand is exporting beef to Korea with residues of endosulfan in it, who knows what residues are in our locally consumed meat,” said Alison White of Safe Food Campaign. “Who is testing it? The answer is nobody. Yet at even very low levels of exposure this gender bending chemical can have a profound and lasting effect on our bodies and those of our offspring.”

“People all over the world are carrying toxic time bombs of endosulfan residues,” said Dr Watts. “For many people these have come largely from eating food containing residues of this pesticide. Until it is finally banned the situation will only get worse.”

“DDT another persistent organochlorine insecticide that is also ecotoxic and an endocrine disruptor, just like endosulphan, still persists in many New Zealand soils although long banned,” said Mr Browning.

“It is as though the difficulties persisting from DDT do not exist for ERMA and the lazy users of Endosulfan. Other options to endosulfan exist and the organic sector for example manages just fine without it. Endosulfan must be removed from New Zealand use urgently to reduce long term contamination, and events such as this current second beef for Korea contamination.”

Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020 and a future proofed clean green Aotearoa New Zealand.

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