More on Folic Acid in bread

To give some balance to the debate, here are some extracts from a PR from the Coalition of Parents of with Spina Bifida:

  • Folic acid does not cause postrate cancer in humans. The negative studies referred to involve extreme levels of folic acid fed to rats. Levels humans would never consume.
  • has approved folic acid fortification – the delay is because they are still deciding on the best vehicle ie bread or flour (including pastries/biscuits etc)
  • Neural tube defects (NTDs) are more common and deadly then meningitis
  • 14 babies were born with NTDs in New Zealand last year. Specialists know this number should be quadrupled because many NTD affected babies are aborted and these are not recorded in the birth register. NTD miscarriages are also excluded.
  • The level suggested is not the full 400mcg RDI but it works (US data since 1998 implementation) in reducing the number of NTD births, and has been proven to reduce heart disease and stroke, colon and stomach cancers, congenital heart defects in babies and onset of Alzheimers.
  • Folic acid is a b-group vitamin necessary for healthy cell development and is comprehensively proven as beneficial for general health
  • The Bakers Association, including president Laurie Powell, have all agreed to the proposal many times during face to face meetings over the past 10 years. Sue Kedgley has also pledged her support as long as organic bread was not fortified
  • National and Labour MPs over three successive governments have agreed to this proposal – often unanimously
  • This is the most important preventive health initiative since iodised salt to prevent goiter and the rubella vaccine.

And to balance that, a PR today from the Association of Bakers:

A day after Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson all but accepted that the new folic acid food standard should go, she has now seized on an unpublished study as conclusive proof that her plan to mass-medicate every New Zealander is safe. …

Her turnaround appears to follow statements by Professor Murray Skeaff, of Otago University, regarding his attendance at a conference in Prague at which an as-yet unpublished pooled analysis of all the randomised control trials of folic acid to date were revealed. We welcome the entrance of Professor Skeaff to the national debate on this important issue. However we note this respected academic has changed his mind from his previous view that “mandatory folic acid fortification would represent an uncontrolled clinical trial with all New Zealanders as participants”.

Professor Skeaff previously got to the nub of the whole issue being debated when he asked, in a research paper in 2003: “Preventing even one case of spina bifida is a priceless relief for the afflicted child or family, but is the prevention of four cases of spina bifida each year sufficient justification for accepting the risks of exposing four million people?” …

Her plan to dose every loaf of bread simply to provide folic acid for pregnant women robs New Zealanders of freedom of choice and her own officials have confirmed to her that there will be “unknown effects” of such a widespread medication plan. It’s the exactly the kind of nanny state intervention in their lives that many kiwis thought would change with the new Government.

Kate Wilkinson’s plan to dose every New Zealander is an experiment – an experiment that very few New Zealand voters want. We welcome the Minister’s continued commitment to a of the standard but suggest it should take place before – not after – its implementation.

Strong views on both sides.

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