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Irradiating foodstuffs involves serious risks.

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Senator John Cherry Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Agriculture th 20 January, 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/27

Irradiating foodstuffs involves serious risks

The Australian Democrats have called on the Queensland and Federal Governments to give a fair hearing to protesters who have been camped at a food irradiation site at Narangba in Queensland for the past seven months.

Democrats’ spokesperson for Agriculture, Senator John Cherry, said he didn’t believe protester concerns had been adequately addressed by Government.

“I don’t think the issue has been given a fair hearing. In December the European Parliament voted to halt further food irradiation approvals in the European Union,” Senator Cherry said.

“But at the same time in Australia, Food Standards Australia approved the irradiation of tropical fruits. However, concerns remain over the fact that irradiation depletes some important nutrients in foods, and over the radiolytic products produced in irradiated foods, some of which are known to have carcinogenic and mutagenic effects,” he said.

The protesters at the controversial Narangba plant remain on site today despite having been given orders to de-camp this morning. Democrats’ Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, visited the site today to lend support. He said the large number of people still gathered report no approach from police or the Department of State Development, which issued the ultimatum. It is believed the Department may now seek an order for possession of land from the Crown Solicitor.

The European Parliament’s Committee report concluded that: ‘Use of radioactive materials for irradiating foodstuffs involves serious risks. Workers can suffer accidental exposure, while radioactive spills and leaks from plants, and during the transportation of radioactive materials, puts the environment and human populations at risk through contamination of groundwater and food chains.’

“The protesters have a point, but they have been unable to get the Queensland and Federal Governments to listen. I call on Premier Beattie and the Howard Government to take on board the genuine and legitimate health concerns of the protesters,” Senator Cherry concluded.