What’s in that food?

We think you need to know, but we’re not sure you’ll want to!

To know our food is safe and free from contamination is a fundamental human right. But the right to know exactly what we are eating is often taken away and even routinely denied to us.

What safeguards exist for most New Zealand consumers standing in a supermarket? How can we change government policy so that safe locally produced organic food is the norm, not the exception?

You know that growing our own food or buying local organic food remains the best way to ensure we know what we are eating and feeding our children and loved ones. However, we must know what has been sprayed onto, added to, and used in the processing of bought food.

We have been campaigning on a broad variety of food safety issues over the last few years; appearing before select committees and presenting at conferences and appearing in the media. All the time we present the case for nutrient-rich, pesticide-free and GE-free organic food.

With your help we will continue to hold both the food industry and government regulators to account.

In our broad “Safe Food” campaign, Soil & Health are calling for “Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling” (MCoOL). It is our right to know where our food comes from.

Even consumers in the United States have had Country of Origin Labelling in some form since 2005. Why do we not have this basic information available to us? With your help we will continue to work with like-minded groups to ensure “MCoOL” is adopted in New Zealand. But Country of Origin Labelling, while vital, is not enough on its own.

Pesticides, residue testing and the banning of endosulfan.

Soil & Health were jubilant in 2009 when the pesticide endosulfan was banned, but there are many more pesticides showing in residue testing of food. We still often see fudged reports on pesticide residues, with results constantly being downplayed by government. As we all know, many pesticides have been consistently linked to cancers and other long-term illnesses. No pesticide residue is acceptable.

“The method of reporting pesticide residues detected in the government Total Diet Study hides the fact that most composite regional food samples contained pesticide residues. It is time for food without pesticide residues – this means organics.” Steffan Browning, August 2009.

Soil & Health wants to see a new approach to pesticide residue tests and reporting.

Additive assault: Folic acid and iodine, artificial sweeteners and colours.

The problem with food adulteration is that although done for valid reasons, as in the recent folic acid debate, the solution can be risky and is not the best way to fix the problem.

Through the work of our campaigner, we instigated the organic sector’s successful exemption of organic breads from the intended mandatory addition of synthetic folic acid and iodine compounds. The folic acid addition was delayed until 2012 for non-organic breads, but iodine compounds will go into non-organic breads in 2009.

We are proud that our work with the Safe Food Campaign against the artificial sweetener aspartame contributed to the decline in sales of dangerous “diet” drinks. However, consumers are being continually assaulted with bad food additives.

We want New Zealanders to get their folate and iodine from natural sources, and to get natural sweet kicks from nutrient-dense, flavoursome organically grown food.

GE in our food!

The pressure for increased profit by the food and agriculture industries is relentless. Our government agencies are not only supporting dubious GE lab experimenting and approving GE field trials, but they are blatantly ignoring risks to our health by allowing GE crops into our food.

Our campaigners’ work in successfully stopping the GE brassica field trial was made possible with the support of Soil & Health members. This has further exposed the risks of GE trials and helped reduce the chance of GE contamination in our environment.

However, we have increasing GE food components in the New Zealand diet. In 2009 Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) have so far agreed to at least 35 different genetically engineered food crops into the Australian and New Zealand food chain, with another 6 applications in progress. FSANZ has never declined a GE food crop application! The GE food crops are varieties of canola, soybean, cotton, corn, potato, sugar beet, and lucerne (alfalfa). They are included in numerous processed food products.

The food industry has pretended to listen to consumers on this issue; Inghams chicken thought it fine to advertise its products as “Free from GMOs” while feeding GE soy to its chickens. The Commerce Commission is investigating, but only after a formal complaint was lodged.

Soil & Health needs your support now more than ever to stop the flood of GE foods into New Zealand. We must oppose the institutional push for more GE. New Zealand must remain GE free.

There’s a lot to combat, but with your support we’ll keep going.

We will campaign for “Safe Food” – free from GE, artificial ingredients and pesticide residues.

Our government institutions are too easily open to capture by the very industries that they “regulate”. Soil & Health is the strong independent voice that represents caution and concern for the natural world that supports and nourishes us all.

There is hope. The increasing size and variety of organic food sections in supermarkets and the growing popularity of local markets shows that we as consumers are forcing change, in spite of institutional indifference.

Our voice must be heard promoting nutrient-rich, organic food, saying no to GE, pesticides or synthetic additives, and yes to Country of Origin Labelling, and yes to a sustainable New Zealand!

Thank you for your support.