My God. Labour in their dying days snuck through a regulation forcing bakers to plant a synthetic form of folic acid into every loaf made in NZ.
The plan aims to reduce the number of brain-damaged babies, although the fall may be a few as four a year.
But new research shows folic acid may cause an increase in colon cancer cases. And another study suggests it may cause colon cancer to grow faster.
The Bakers’ Association has labelled the compulsory introduction “mass medication” of the population, and warned that bread containing folic acid will be less safe than it is now.
This is like National Hospital’s unfortunate experiment – no informed consent for the test subjects.
The scheme was a favourite of former Health Minister Annette King but never went before Parliament. It was passed under special rules which do not allow the same level of public scrutiny.
The mandatory scheme was developed after it was decided the current scheme – in which specific brands are fortified with folic acid – was unsuccessful.
So the public didn’t choose the right sort of bread, so Labour passed a special law (regulation) to force everyone to have folic acid in their bread.
To me this is different to the flouridation debate, where the water supply is centralised. But at least with that debate, people can get their own water tank and supply. But this regulation will mean people have no choice to get bread without folic acid.
Bakers’ Association head Laurie Powell said it was difficult to address the issue because the industry did not want to put consumers off bread. “Our products are safe but probably not as safe with folic acid.”
He confirmed concerns about the scheme had led the association to ask the Government for legal indemnity.
“If it is found in 15 years’ time this stuff is bad and it causes health problems, we would be sued,” he said.
Powell was also concerned the industry could not regulate the amount of folic acid going into each individual loaf.
“It is a mass medication experiment that won’t work,” he said. “A trip to your baker should not be a trip to the pharmacy.”
The bakers have a point – they could get sued.
Authority officials confirmed pregnant women would not get enough folic acid from fortified bread and would still need to take supplements.
Which means the scheme may be counter-productive as it could mean women think they don’t need the supplements.