The Government must show it’s on the side of New Zealand babies and toddlers and their parents, rather than big-business food companies, and put in place better testing and regulation of pesticide residue levels in children’s food, the Green Party said today.
The Green Party’s call comes in the wake of a Primary Production Select Committee report into allegations that there are unacceptably high levels of pesticides in baby food sold in New Zealand, and a demand for regulations in this country to be significantly tightened to match those in the EU.
“I think most Kiwi parents would be alarmed by any, let alone high, levels of pesticide residues being found in their baby’s food, but instead of acknowledging that and regulating accordingly, the Government is continuing its laissez-faire approach to children’s health and safety,” said Green Party spokesperson for food safety Steffan Browning.
“The Select Committee was presented with a petition from 4,277 concerned New Zealanders. It was also presented with evidence from the New Zealand Total Diet Survey that showed, statistically, samples of baby food sold in this country had higher levels of pesticide residues than those tested in the EU – possibly as much as five times higher.
“This evidence should be of great concern to Kiwi mums and dads.
“MPI’s response to these concerns – defending current testing regulations and acceptable pesticide residue levels – was extremely disappointing.
“The testing process baby foods go through currently is, at best, inadequate and, at worst, a sham. Testing occurs only every five years, which is no-where near frequent enough.
“The Green Party believes baby food should be tested annually for pesticide residues, to provide peace of mind for Kiwi parents.
“It was also concerning to hear that MPI consider the Acceptable Daily Intake for agricultural compounds to apply to children in the same way it does to adults because, ‘despite their (children’s) organs being less developed and more susceptible to damage, their repair mechanisms are usually superior.’
“This suggests MPI consider pesticide residues in baby food to be acceptable because children can ‘patch up’ from the harm caused. This utter lack of concern is very worrying.
“The Government should be taking a precautionary and proactive approach to the testing of pesticide residue levels in baby food, and working towards zero tolerance regulations.
“Instead, it’s doing very little at all, which is something every Kiwi parent has the right to be concerned about,” said Mr Browning.