Following the support evidenced by Maoridom during the course of the Hikoi in support of a moratorium on Genetically Modified Foods and the failure of that Hikoi (thus far) to find tangible support within the institutions of the NZ Government, it was felt that there was value in bringing to our members attention pertinent information as and when it becomes available:
Some background to a major proponent of GM Foods: Monsanto:
Heath related issues:
The Report of the March 2006 Peoples Inquiry makes findings with respect to the West Auckland Pesticide Spray Programme:
(i) that there are health effects related to the spray which were predominantly respiratory in nature
(ii) that there is significant and effectively uncontrollable spray drift
(iii) that MAF did not adequately advise people
(iv) that the volume of spray used/number of overflights was considerably more than originally anticipated
Reference is made to stipulations prescribed in Nuremberg following World War II and specifically concludes as follows:
Peoples Inquiry: Health Effects of aerial spraying in Waitakere City Council area - website:
or download a copy of the report:
The Ombudsman's response:
Officials in charge of aerial spraying campaigns in Auckland and Hamilton failed to pay enough attention to their effects on public health, says the Ombudsman.
In his report - which is released today - Mel Smith found shortcomings in the actions of both the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Health that he said needed to be recognised so they were not repeated.
The report examines the impact the use of the spray Foray 48B had on more than 217,000 people living within the spray zones in West Auckland (sprayed for painted apple moths) and Hamilton (sprayed for Asian gypsy moths) between 2002 and 2004.
Mr Smith said there was evidence that the health of 3000 to 4000 people could have been harmed.
He found the aerial spraying operations were themselves carried out professionally and achieved the objective for which the Government allocated more than $85 million in the 2003-05 financial years.
But Mr Smith found elements of the programme unsatisfactory and was critical of the way potential health risks were communicated.
He said there needed to be clear official acceptance that although the numbers of people affected by the spraying might not be great as a proportion of the community, there were a significant number who would have required medical attention or removal from the sprayed areas.
"It is no light thing to be sprayed, perhaps repeatedly, with some substance, the ingredients of which are to some extent confidential, and to have one's life substantially disrupted for what may be a quite lengthy period of time."
Mr Smith said the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Maf) had given the impression that the spray had no health effects, yet could not disclose what it contained.
"The public was therefore left to speculate about the active ingredients in the spray, which resulted in a lot of suspicion and some hysteria about the use of 'toxic chemicals' in aerial spraying over populated areas.
"This resulted in a big credibility gap for Maf with the public and stakeholders who saw or heard that the spray was indeed causing health problems ... like allergic reactions."
Mr Smith said Maf's apparent denial regarding the health effects of the spray gave protest groups unnecessary credibility with the public because these groups had maintained all along that the spray was not safe.
He recommended that spraying agencies provide accurate information regarding the need for a spray programme and about the contents of the spray.
"It should also unequivocally acknowledge that there may be harm caused to some people residing or present within the spray zone."
A health service set up to provide support was used by 3888 householders with complaints including general concerns, respiratory problems, skin and eye rashes or irritation, chemical sensitivities and headaches.
Mr Smith said it was unclear whether any research into long-term effects of the spraying had been conducted.
"I consider that it is a matter which should receive the ministry's urgent attention."
One of the complainants, Jane Schaverien, said she was pleased with the report, which went some way in restoring her faith in the system.
Ms Schaverien, who had lived in the Waitakere Ranges during the spraying, said it showed that the spraying had harmed some people's health and hopefully the same mistakes would not be made again.
Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton said last night that a small number of people were mildly affected by the spraying and some were relocated, receiving any necessary medical attention and being monitored.
Efforts by the Government to publicly disclose the contents of the spray formula were blocked by the manufacturer, but it was provided to health authorities and an independent toxicologist for careful scrutiny.
Mr Anderton said the successful eradication of the pests had provided significant benefits to NZ. The economic impact of the painted apple moth alone, if it had become established, had been estimated at $58 million to $356 million over 20 years.
The Ministry of Health said that much of what the Ombudsman recommended was actually done.
"The ministry has learned a lot from its involvement in the spraying programme and will take these lessons on board for any future operations."
e. & o.e.