The deadly toxic pesticide endosulfan has been found in lettuce, strawberries, courgettes in the latest government food residue testing.
Endosulfan, already banned in 56 countries because of its high toxicity and environmental persistence, has been nominated by the European Union for a global ban under the Stockholm Convention.
“That this old-fashioned organochlorine pesticide is still being used by New Zealand is deeply embarrassing for New Zealand on the global stage, and that it is still turning up as residues in our daily food is complete unacceptable for the health of New Zealanders”, said Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa Co-ordinator Dr Meriel Watts.
“It is an endocrine disruptor, mimicking oestrogen at very low levels of exposure and is implicated in breast cancer. It is also a neurotoxin and is linked to Parkinson’s disease, it causes birth defects, and it undermines the immune system. As well as that, many hundreds of people have been killed overseas, particularly in Africa and India, by exposure to this pesticide when used in agriculture.”
“All over the world endosulfan contaminates the environment – New Zealand use probably contributes to the residues found in elephant seals in the Antarctic. It also contaminates human breast-milk, adipose tissue, placental tissue and umbilical cord blood, meaning that the unborn child is exposed, and then re-exposed on birth through breast milk. Any use whatsoever adds to this global environmental and human burden.”
In 2005 New Zealand faced the embarrassment, and a $30 million dollar loss, when Korea found illegal residues of endosulfan in NZ export beef.
“ERMA is reassessing endosulfan and we hope this will bring about a final ban on it but in the meantime, we call on growers to immediately stop use of this highly toxic and destructive pesticide,” said Dr Watts and Soil & Health Association spokesperson Mr Browning.
“New Zealand needs to be a leader in removing pesticides not a follower,” said Mr Browning, “Organic foods produced without such pesticides are the fastest growing sector of the food and beverage trade internationally.”