The Folic Acid controversy

got a pretty tough grilling on yesterday as she was in the unenvious position of saying she thinks the compulsory medicating of bread with was wrong, yet she would not or could not stop it occurring due to our treaty with Australia – the best being offered is a review in October.

It is true that it is much easier to decide not to do something, than it is to pull out of a decision after it had been made by a previous Government – especially when it deos involve a treaty with a friendly Government. But the transcript shows the difficulty of trying to say we think this is a bad decision, but can’t stop it:

KATE The science is actually light on it.  I agree with what the Irish are doing, I’d have to say I agree with what they’re doing.

PAUL Well then do it.

KATE That’s why I’m doing it – the first opportunity I’m taking it and asking for a review.

PAUL I’m sorry you’re gonna put folic acid which may give me prostate cancer again, into my staple food, the bread, and then you’re gonna&

SUE And then review it.

PAUL And then review it, so you could be threatening the health of this nation.


KATE If you drill down into those studies though you’ll find that they’re not that qualitative or quantitative and it is a bit light.  Now if we can get a review through the Ministerial Council it’ll be done in three months.

PAUL Oh so we have three months of possible poisoning.

Holmes was very worked up on this issue.

PAUL Forgive me Minister, I read yesterday in researching this that is some link between excessive folic acid and prostate cancer.

SUE That is right.

PAUL And you are gonna put that in my bread?

SUE But Paul it’s the stupidity of this, that the Minister accepts there are these health risks.

KATE Yes she does.

SUE But she’s saying we have to do it so we’re eating up for Australia, we’re going to be forced because of some trade relationship with Australia, surely we should put – public health issues should be paramount, not some diplomatic relationship.

Never good when you let Sue Kedgley answer on your behalf

Worth remembering this, from NZPA:

Former Food Safety Minister said when the decision was made that it was “a triumph for humanity and common sense”.

I think this may become a bigger and bigger issue as September gets closer. If I was in Government I would be looking very hard at how to get a decision on this before the scheduled meeting in Australia. Surely one can get the agreement of the Australian Ministers by e-mail or something to allow New Zealand to suspend implementing the folic bread addition due to health concerns.