As you may know, I am no longer a Member of Parliament, and am now a Greater Wellington Regional Councillor.

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Sue Kedgley's latest columns

Kiwis in the dark about irradiated fruit and vegetables

I'm wondering why the Government is about to approve the importation of irradiated apples, peaches, apricots and nine other fruit and vegetables from fruit fly-infested Queensland.

After all, we have an abundance of locally grown produce here that doesn't need to be irradiated, and it's still difficult for our growers to get their apples sold in Australia. So why is our Government bending over backwards to allow even more irradiated produce into our food chain? Nor can I understand why our Government wants to remove the requirement that irradiated food must be labelled.

Animals deserve vote of support

There's been a proliferation of pre-election political panels in the run-up to this election - more than I can remember, which is a healthy sign in our democracy.

But the most interesting one I have attended was a political panel on animal welfare - a first for this country.

Action needed to rid us of deadly diesel fumes

Two years ago the International Agency for Research on Cancer categorised diesel exhaust fumes as class one carcinogens in the same category as asbestos, arsenic and cigarette smoke.

It said the scientific evidence about the harm of diesel exhaust fumes was compelling and its conclusion was that "diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans".

The reason is that when diesel burns inside an engine it releases particles that stay in the airways and can trigger asthma, bronchitis and other lung conditions, including cancer.

Column on Scrapping the Trolleybuses

Many Wellingtonians regret the fact our forefathers got rid of Wellington's trams 50 years ago. Now there's another, similarly short-sighted proposal on the table: to scrap our pollution-free, climate-friendly fleet of trolley buses and replace them with diesel buses.

At a time when fossil fuels are becoming scarcer and pricier, and we're being exhorted to switch to clean, sustainable energy sources, it makes no sense to replace trolley buses that run on renewable energy with diesel buses powered by fossil fuel.

Sunbed regulation needed

It's a mystery to me why sunbeds are unregulated in New Zealand.

We know they increase our risk of developing skin cancer and that the more people use them, and the younger they start using them, the greater their risk.

We know, too, that thousands of young women use them on a regular basis, oblivious to the risks.

We also know we have the highest rates of melanoma and skin cancer in the world. So why on earth wouldn't we regulate sunbeds, to reduce the significant and entirely preventable public health risk they pose?

Make Radio NZ an election issue

Conservative governments all over the world seem to dislike public service broadcasting. George Bush targeted public service broadcasting; John Howard made attacking the Australian Broadcasting Corporation a regular sport, and now Tony Abbott has launched an all-out assault on the ABC, accusing it of being unpatriotic, and threatening to cut its funding.

Time to swallow hard truth on mercury

Looking back, the once common practice of painting lead on to women's faces to lighten their skin seems bizarre.

I suspect future generations will also consider it bizarre that for more than a century we routinely put mercury amalgam fillings into our teeth.

Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal - more toxic than lead and arsenic. It's also a potent neurotoxin and cell toxin, and even minute amounts of mercury pose a significant risk to our nervous, respiratory and immune systems.

Supermarket spotlight overdue

I'm delighted that Labour MP Shane Jones has shone the spotlight on supermarket tactics in New Zealand.

And I'm pleased, too, that the Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss, has raised it with the Commerce Commission, as there's really no other way of establishing if the claims are true, as trading relations between supermarkets and their suppliers are intensely secretive, and suppliers are unwilling to blow the whistle for fear of losing their business and access to the marketplace.

Keep our cows out of factory farms

My heart sank when I heard about Fonterra's idea to reduce the dairy industry's impact on our environment.

Fonterra has come up with a strategy to make the industry more sustainable, and included it in a 10-year growth plan it has submitted to the Government.

Antibiotics: the danger of them ruling the roost

I was somewhat startled to read a claim by our chief scientist, Sir Peter Gluckman, that antibiotic use in agriculture in New Zealand is low compared with other countries.

Sir Peter was responding to suggestions that we need to drastically reduce our use of antibiotics in the face of the growing threat of superbugs that are resistant to all antibiotics.


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