New Zealand Baby Food Contains 800 Times More Pesticides Than Baby Food In Europe – But Pesticides To Stay In Baby Food
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 was presented to the Primary Production Committee by Dr Meriel Watts of the Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa and Alison White of the Safe Food Campaign in December 2014
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.|
Pesticides To Stay In Baby Food
Pesticides are to stay in baby food, in spite of a petition presented to parliament. The Primary Production Committee decided on May 28 2015 not to act on the Safe Food Campaign petition asking for zero tolerance for pesticide residues in baby food, even though such directives are currently in place in the European Union.
The Committee acknowledged the public interest to New Zealanders and the concern felt about toxins in food, especially for parents of new-borns and young children. However they did not call for a more extensive baby food residue surveillance programme, as suggested by the Safe Food Campaign.
|“Every five to six years a mere eight samples of four different kinds of baby food are analysed for pesticide residues,” said Alison White, Co-convenor of the Safe Food Campaign, “and this is absolutely inadequate.”|
Pesticides were found in over 30% of baby food samples in the last Total Diet Survey in 2009. Ms White contrasted this to the EU:
|“New Zealand baby food had 533% more pesticide residues. The EU had an average of less than 6% of baby food samples positive for pesticide residues over 6 years.”
“We want to make parents more aware of the dangers that certain pesticide residues pose to babies and young children,” Ms White stated.“To this end, we are running a campaign the week of the 15 June to protect our children from toxic pesticides here in New Zealand, following the pesticide awareness campaign of Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific. More details will be available on our website.”
“Certain pesticides, including some detected in New Zealand baby food, have been found to be linked to cancer progression and endocrine or hormonal disruption,” said Dr Heli Matilainen of the Safe Food Campaign.
“Children, due to their actively developing bodies, have unique windows of vulnerability which adults do not have. This means that it is not the dose which is critical, but the timing of exposure, because doses thousands of times lower than those normally considered toxic may interfere with children’s development,” explained Dr Matilainen.
“I am sure I am talking on behalf of every parent in New Zealand,” concluded Ms White, “when I urge the government to step up and protect our babies from dangerous pesticides that are currently present in baby food.”
The Safe Food Campaign is a nationwide organisation that gives consumers information about food so when they buy food they can make a more informed choice.