NZFSA fails food test, bring on the organics

Soil & Health is looking forward to the Organics Aotearoa New Zealand Conference at Lincoln University, on Friday & Saturday, following release of NZFSA’s Total Diet Survey (TDS) results.

“NZFSA should reduce the spin it puts in its pesticide residue results and admit that it is pure good luck to find pesticide and heavy metal residue free food,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“The statement that of approximately 199,100 individual analytical agricultural compound residue results, 997 results (0.5%) represented detectable residues, was misleading. The majority of the tests were totally irrelevant to the foods tested and were in fact a by catch from a multi residue screen of 221 compounds, multiplied by about 121 tested foods in batches.”

“Of course most foods do not have anything like 221 pesticides near them and so there are numerous zero detections, but put around the other way, we find that numerous foods have one or more residues. Of 121 foods just 25 had no residues, and some of those would instead have dubious food additives also considered safe by the trade focused NZFSA,” said Browning.

“New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) also fails consumers with its food testing by using the spurious Maximum Residue Limit as a safety guide and takes no account of the cocktail effect of consuming multiple agrichemical residues.”

At Wednesday’s media conference, NZFSA staff downplayed the health risks of chemical cocktails, by saying the total volume of chemicals ingested was the appropriate measure, rather than accepting evidence that some pesticides heightened health effects at low residue levels when mixed in typical food combinations with other pesticides.

““Dose makes the poison,” was the repeated phrase as the NZFSA chemical apologist attempted to hoodwink yesterday’s strong media presence. Suggesting that synthetic agrichemical residues in New Zealand food were no worse than what occurs naturally, and that the Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) limits and MRL’s were all set at such conservative levels that meant that even the numerous non-compliances in the Total Diet Survey were absolutely safe.”

“Soil & Health has another view based on independent science (eg. Lodovici, M. et al 1994,1997) and the continuing withdrawal of agrichemicals when serious health effects are finally acknowledged. For example an organophosphate and also pentachlorophenol, will be withdrawn by the Environmental Risk Management Authority this year,” said Browning, “NZFSA should acknowledge that their ADI’s and MRL’s are just their tool in the absence of knowledge and serious precaution, and should stop fudging the residue figures.”

“Chlorothalonil the active ingredient in Bravo fungicide, is noted and down played in the NZFSA celery and spinach residue results. 16 and 13 results above the MRL respectively for 48 tests each, but the real fact is that celery only had 6 out of 48 tests chlorothalonil negative and 5 of those had other residues. The only one residue free celery sample of 48, would most likely be organic but was not differentiated.”

“Chlorothalonil, a carcinogen, mutagenic environmental toxin, was in all samples of conventional celery tested almost 3 years ago by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and Soil and Health. However part of the change is use by growers of different fungicides.”

“Organic celery of course has no such pesticide residues and while not always looking like the nitrate and pesticide compromised supermarket versions, can still be attractive but more sustainably produced.”

“A fresh approach to food is needed in New Zealand and with massive growth in organics internationally, it is time that synthetic pesticide free organic production targets, such as in Soil & Health’s Organic 2020 vision, were taken on for the well being of New Zealand’s environmental and human health.”

Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Healthy People.

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