The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has received results on the first round of tests of milk collected from landfarms. The MPI spokesperson said, “there were no health and safety issues at the levels detected” but would not comment on the results.
“It’s not good enough for MPI to say there are ‘no food safety issues’. The public has the right to know what’s been found in the milk, if contaminants were present, and from which landfarm(s),” said Catherine Cheung, Climate Justice Taranaki.
Numerous studies have shown that some of the drilling and fracking chemicals are harmful at extremely low concentrations. Some can disrupt normal hormone functions crucial for healthy growth and reproduction, even at levels below detection.
Notably the July 2014 report on the BTW Brown Road Landfarm in Waitara received a “poor performance” rating from the Taranaki Regional Council for 2012-2013, citing four unauthorised incidents involving non-compliance of consent conditions. Elevated levels of dissolved solids, chloride, barium, benzene and toluene were found in the groundwater next to the storage area. Cattle were reported by a TRC inspector to be grazing in recently sown areas in June 2012 and steers were observed by a local resident on the landfarm this June.
It was prudent of Fonterra to decline milk from new landfarms a year ago. “But that is clearly not enough to safeguard human health and food safety. We call on Fonterra to stop taking milk from all landfarms, now. We also urge NZ Beef and Lamb and ANZCO to take heed and appropriate action,” said Cheung.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in her recent report said, “The situation with landfarming in Taranaki needs urgent attention. Since the regional council considers that it is not responsible for animal welfare or food safety, the Food Safety Authority should step in. Someone must take responsibility for deciding when livestock can be put back on to landfarmed pasture, and for ensuring that the current ‘hands off’ situation does not continue. This issue is not confined to dairy farming – beef cattle or sheep, for instance, may graze landfarmed pasture.”
Cheung concluded, “Let’s move onto sustainable farming that nurtures soil health as much as profits and are not reliant on fossil fuels, as some progressive farmers are already doing.”
Midday Rural News (Radio NZ, 31 July, 2:05-3:37)