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NOVEMBER 2007 UPDATE: The Report of the March 2006 People's Inquiry has now been published.

"First they portray the spray as perfectly safe, then they belittle and dismiss the health effects that arise, and finally when respected scientists and doctors investigate and begin to report real concerns and possible pathways of exposure and effect, they are disparaged, their credentials questioned and their Reports sidelined or suppressed." -Report vindicates the People's Inquiry Press Release, NZ

Yet again AG Kawamura caught in slanted truths. He claimed that pesticides were sprayed over urban areas in Auckland, New Zealand. However he failed to mention that they sprayed for the Painted Apple Moth and not the Light Brown Apple Moth. AG also failed to mention there was a major investigation which reveailed that that the "New Zealand government failed to meet the basic responsibility of a government to protect its citizens from physical harm."

Much thanks for the information below. It was written by:

Dr Tom Kerns,
Chair Department of Philosophy
North Seattle Community College
9600 College Way North
Seattle, WA 98103

The Commissioners' Report for the People's Inquiry into aerial pesticide spraying has now been completed and was finally made public last week at a launch event held in the Waitakere city council chambers in West Auckland, New Zealand.

The People's Inquiry was a citizen-initiated, community-based Inquiry into the longest and largest aerial pesticide spray ever conducted over an urban population.

The Inquiry sat for five days in March of 2006 and heard testimony from individuals and families who reported severe health effects and economic and personal impacts, as well as from a variety of medical, public health and biosecurity experts who testified about both health effects and pest control practices.

For the past 18 months we commissioners have been studying the recorded and written testimony in detail, have done extensive correlative research, and have put together our findings and recommendations.

The Report details mistakes and errors in judgement made by the NZ Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and makes twenty seven recommendations for future government improvements. It concludes that the reported health effects were indeed caused by exposure to the spray, that the reported economic, social and personal consequences were direct results of the spray program, that basic ethical and human rights principles were ignored, and that the most fundamental responsibility of every government, viz., to protect its citizens from physical harm, was not met.

Information about the spray programme and about the People's Inquiry can be viewed at

The Report of the People's Inquiry can be downloaded from the PI website at

A short address (3 minutes) I prepared for the launch event at which the Report was made public can be viewed at

A short radio interview with one of the commissioners, Dr Joanna Goven, conducted the day after the report's launch, can be heard at,

Below is a copy of the Report's Executive Summary.

Report of the People's Inquiry

Executive summary

The majority of testimony had one major theme in common: the way in which members of the community were treated when they sought assistance in dealing with the effects of the spray.

Based on the testimony we received, it is our opinion that: there was extensive disruption of some people's work, education, family and social lives caused by their need to avoid the spray; there were significant deficiencies in the health support service; and many affected community members struggled to access medical assistance and practical support to cope with the effects of the spray programme.

Based on the evidence presented to us, it is our opinion that: MAF did not take up the opportunity to build upon the experience of the 1996/97 White-Spotted Tussock Moth programme regarding relations with the community; and that MAF did not permit the Community Advisory Group to represent community interests in any meaningful way.

Based on the testimony we have related in the report, it is our view that: unsubstantiated claims about the threat represented by the PAM may have damaged the credibility of Biosecurity New Zealand; and that the impact on the community of the spray programme was exacerbated by inadequate provision of information, particularly with regard to particular spray operations and the pesticide aerially sprayed, Foray48B. For many of those whose health was affected by the spray, not being able to find out what they were being exposed to understandably provoked anxiety and anger.

Testimony strongly indicated not only that the authorities' lack of acknowledgement of the affected community's experience itself had a considerable impact on people, but also that the treatment received by many who sought assistance generated hurt, anger, mistrust and alienation that has outlasted the PAM programme and can be expected to influence residents? orientation toward "the national interest" in the future.

In our view it is inappropriate that an agency (MAF) primarily committed to the protection of primary production and trade should have responsibility for managing the human-health impacts of an incursion response. In our view, it is doubtful that any community expected to bear the health risks of an incursion response will have confidence in MAF to properly consider health impacts when primary-production sector interests are at stake.

Health studies that, in our view, should have been carried out prior to, during, and after the spray programme, were not carried out. The Health Risk Assessment that was carried out was based on assumptions that differed significantly from the actual conditions of the spray programme.

Based on the testimony we heard it is our view that the protection of what should be independent research from political interference is insufficiently robust.

The Biosecurity Act is insufficiently protective of public health and should be amended.

It must be recognised that many biosecurity decisions are not solely technical in nature, but fundamentally political. They concern whose interests will be protected and to what degree, who will pay the cost of that protection, and who will bear the risks. It cannot and should not be expected that biosecurity authorities' answers to these questions will simply be accepted by the public at large as being in the national interest." The process of answering these questions, of setting priorities and making decisions, must be transparent, and must take into account a wider range of interests, views and knowledge than was the case in the PAM programme. There must, therefore, be genuine opportunities for potentially affected communities to be involved in biosecurity planning and decision-making.

Part Two: Upon reviewing the available evidence, Dr Romeo Quijano concludes that the aerial spraying of Foray 48B resulted in adverse health effects on the people exposed to the spraying. He notes: When an a priori belief (the spray is "safe"; it does not make people sick) comes up against a contradictory empirical claim (this spray is making me sick), the empirical claim deserves to be given more epistemological weight than the a priori belief.

Part Three: Having examined the evidence in the light of relevant national and international human rights instruments and conventions, Dr Tom Kerns concludes that in the prosecution of the PAM aerial spray programme, the evidence shows a number of human rights standards were not met and that the New Zealand government failed to meet the basic responsibility of a government to protect its citizens from physical harm. As a result of these failures, actions knowingly undertaken by agents of the government resulted in the infliction of serious physical, social and economic injury on a significant number of West Auckland citizens


Special thanks to Dr Tom Kerns for the above information and his hard work with the "People's Inquiry" and more.

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