DCD scare will 'enhance' NZ's reputation
Tue, 29 Jan 2013 8:52a.m.
By Dan Satherley
The head of Federated Farmers says Fonterra only had to report the presence of agricultural chemical dicyandiamide in its milk because of a "technicality".
Both the Government and Fonterra have reassured the public and our trading partners that there is nothing to fear from dicyandiamide, also known as DCD, which is used to prevent nitrogen seeping into waterways.
Fonterra says the traces of the substance – found four months ago – were so small they were not worth mentioning. Federated Farmers CEO Conor English agrees, saying there has been a "massive overreaction".
"It's been treated as a contaminant – actually it's just a residue, and we've got this bizarre situation where just because there isn't an international standard, technically speaking, the government agencies have had to respond to this," he told Firstline this morning.
"I think the outcome of this will be our reputation for food safety will actually be enhanced, because if we've responded the way that we have with this chemical – which is non-toxic, it's fully biodegradable, it's got no health harm effects, unless you drink tonnes of the stuff – and we've taken this quite severe action, then I think our reputation will be enhanced in the medium term – but right now, it's under a bit of threat."
Mr English says the Government was required to report finding traces of DCD in Fonterra's milk only because there isn't an internationally agreed safe level.
"If there was an international standard, it would be set at a level way higher than the detections of the residues have been, and there wouldn't be an issue at all. It's just more of a technicality here that we've sort of got ourselves into a bit of trouble with."
Milk tested yesterday in Taiwan showed levels of DCD "in the margin of error", says Mr English, who believes the controversy will actually help New Zealand's reputation as a safe food exporter.
"The outcome of this will be our reputation for food safety will actually be enhanced, because if we've responded the way that we have with this chemical – which is non-toxic, it's fully biodegradable, it's got no health harm effects, unless you drink tonnes of the stuff – and we've taken this quite severe action, then I think our reputation will be enhanced in the medium term – but right now, it's under a bit of threat."
Prime Minister John Key said yesterday a person would have to drink "a swimming pool full of milk" to experience any side effects of DCD.
Federated Farmers vice-president William Ralston said at the levels detected, DCD is "safer than table salt and it's safer than the chlorine that you have in the water that keeps our water safe".
Fonterra has issued a number of statements over the past few days, reassuring export markets the milk is safe to drink.
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31/01/2013 11:03:35 a.m.
Fonterra is running scared because DCD has not been tested in any country. So if it hasn't been tested how can Fonterra come out and say it is safe. In the onset DDT and Thalidomide were proclaimed safe because the developers wanted money. Fonterra is just another big business out to make a profit.
Secondly, the Greens have started playing the game of demanding it be taken off the market and blaming Fonterra. Truth is, The Greens are just as guilty, if not more guilty, because they are the one who pushed its use to begin with to save the waterways. Well, they might have saved the waterways, but what have they done to the children drinking untested contaminents?
29/01/2013 4:12:21 p.m.
Your are right Hazel, there are other unanswered questions to like. What are the levels of DCD in the milk per liter. Does dicyandiamide (DCD) accumulate in the body if so what rate does our bodys get rid of it?
29/01/2013 12:13:28 p.m.
Hazel Wright wrote:
The lack of international regulation for acceptable levels of DCD gives way for ambiguous commentary and allows Fonterra to hide behind legislation. I wonder how much a toddler would need to drink to feel the effects?. As with any substance/chemical, not everyone has the same tolerance levels.Throw away comments about "drinking a swimming pool of the stuff" doesn't provide public confidence.
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