30 May 2014

Kaye to monitor call for pesticide ban

6:46 am on 30 May 2014

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye intends to follow closely a petition calling for a ban on pesticides in baby food.

A petition signed by more than 4000 people was given to Green Party food safety spokesperson Mojo Mathers on Thursday before being presented to Parliament.

It calls for New Zealand to follow Europe and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to pesticides in baby food.

Ms Kaye said she would follow it closely if it was referred to a parliamentary select committee for consideration, as she knew how important it was to have safe food for infants.

A 2009 government survey found pesticides in a range of baby foods, most of which were weaning food containing fruit and vegetables for six to 12-month-olds.

But Ms Kaye said the residues found were well below the World Health Organisation's acceptable daily intake limit.

However, Pesticide Action Network co-ordinator Meriel Watts said even low levels of pesticides were dangerous for babies.

"And it is well known now that infants are infinitely more sensitive to pesticides than adults are," Dr Watts said.

"At the early stage of their lives their immune systems, their endocrine systems and their neurological systems are all still developing, their brains are developing and they're very sensitive to the effects of even very small doses of pesticides."