Kathy Grech is proud of the family spuds....but the red tape is a nightmare.
All Aussie fruit and vegetable farmers all have to have their produce undergo the same domestic screen testing for 135 chemicals…. supermarkets won’t even buy from them unless they can prove these chemicals haven’t been used...but the same fruit and vegetable imported into Australia are only tested for 50 of these chemicals…
“It just doesnt feel right it doesnt feel fair, it should be a fair playing field.” Said Kathy
About 2000 kilometres away…These potatoes in NZ don't have to meet the same standards as Kathy's spuds…
“They’re allowed to have at least 85 chemicals they’re not being tested for and that’s not fair.” Said Kathy
“So there's 85 chemicals that aren’t on your potatoes but could well be on the imported ones?” Asked Reporter
“That could be on theirs that’s right.” Said Kathy
It comes at a time when Australia's food bowl is turning into a dust bowl ...The latest example?... farmers burning their fruit trees...at the same time fruit and vegetables imports nearly doubled in the last 7 years to 354 million dollars.
Already 750,000 hectares of peach trees in Victoria's Goulburn Valley have been torched after the local SPC Ardmona cannery has axed half its suppliers...Rocky Mantovani's family have been supplying peaches to the factory for nearly 100 years.
“This time last year we were told keep planting, things are looking good now they tell us they haven't made any money on peaches since 2008, so you knew there was a crises, they knew that everything as happening, they never told us.” Said Rocky and Son
Other fruit and vegetable processors have already left Australia...Simplot in Bathurst and Devonport is also under threat...ll
“Were going to be walking off the land and i think there’ll be a lot of others doing the same thing.” Said Rocky and Son
Rocky's son Vincent blames the massive influx of imports...This 825g tin of SPC sliced Australian peaches is sold for $3.99....yet a Coles and Woolworths homebrand tin with imported peaches form south Africa is just $1.49 ...low wages is one of the reasons why its cheaper to import.
“It’s their fault, it's the government for allowing all this fruit and vegetable and whatever they let in from China and then it's the supermarkets for accepting it all.” Said Rocky and Vincent
It might be cheaper but is it safe........Today Tonight's own testing has proven there are toxic chemicals in this imported produce…Co-ordinator of the National Toxics Network…Jo Immig.
Nine months ago we found traces of the fungicide Cyprodinil...and the chemical Boscalid in these beans imported from Belgium....in the same tests the highly toxic fungicide Procymidone was found in this bag of McCains cut beans from New Zealand.
We found the same chemicals 9 months before that in this bag of McCains Winter Vegetables...10 percent were from China...the rest from New Zealand...The organophosphate Parathion Methyl was also found...sixth generation Tasmanian farmer Mike Badock says its banned in Australia
Imported frozen raspberries were tested...2 of the 6 bags contained traces of difenoconazole and pyraclostrobin…Jo explains.
So why this double standard...With 4 different regulators involved getting to the truth is not easy...particularly when one of them tells you there is no list of banned chemicals in Australia...if that was true farmers could still be using DDT...the big question we wanted to ask was: Are Australians being sold imported foods that could make us sick...all our attempts to get this question answered proved fruitless...No-one could be persuaded to come on camera and answer these simple questions
“You know if its grown in Australia you know its 100 percent safe, if its grown overseas you just don’t know what you’re eating.” Said Cathy