Ireland’s current reputation as a food
Food production is highly important to Ireland’s
economy. We have a reputation for
home produced, natural, fresh foodstuffs. There is no doubt that we
fill a niche in this market.
Also we have an important
beef and dairy industry. The fact that we have the lowest levels of
dioxin in Europe undoubtedly gives us an advantage over other European
How incineration can
affect our reputation
The EPA plans to licence two incinerators
in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork: one for hazardous waste and one for municipal
Toxins from incineration
(carcinogenic dioxins being the most well known) enter the food chain
with ease. Foods which tend to have the highest dioxin levels include
dairy products, meat and poultry, eggs, fish and animal fats.
Polluted food will
seriously affect our health, particularly our children’s health,
as they are 25 times more vulnerable to the emissions than adults.
At the moment Ireland
produces some of the least polluted food in the world. Do we want
to lose out on this advantage to rival countries, such as New Zealand,
who have adopted alternative waste management strategies?
Why should the Ringaskiddy
incinerators operate for Belgian profit, while local communities and
local businesses pay with their health, their environment, their wasted
raw materials and, in a big way, with their purses.
We heard recently from a renowned paediatrician,
Dr. Gavin ten Tusscher, that they are finding a whole range of health
problems among children raised in the vicinity of incinerators, children
they have been monitoring from before birth. What is highly significant
in their findings is that these children were brought up around incinerators
run at or below permitted emission levels.
This is not unexpected when we know that emission
levels are set from desktop studies into the effects of these chemicals
on an adult male. No one considers the most vulnerable in our societies
nor the long term effect on future generations.
Alternatives for dealing with animal and food
We find it totally incomprehensible that
anyone should opt for incineration technology when there are much
newer and safer technologies available. Of special significance to
agriculture is the use of Alkaline Hydrolysis and Anaerobic Digestion.
- Alkaline Hydrolysis: Meat
and bonemeal waste is costing millions in storage and disposal overseas.
The alternative to incinerating this waste is a process called Alkaline
Hydrolysis. This is most effective for bovine waste - that is, meat
and bonemeal and animal by-products. Because the process hydrolyses
proteins, BSE-infected material and any infectious material( i.e
prions), can also be safely degraded. By-products are biodegradable.
This treatment can also be coupled to an Anaerobic Digester.
- Centralised Anaerobic Digestion:
This is a mature technology implemented in Sweden, Denmark,
Italy, etc. Benefits include the production of a biogas to be used
for a Combined Heat and Power plant, liquid fertilizer and a fibre
compost material. As well as managing farm wastes, CAD can process
all sludges, abattoir waste and bio-wastes which cannot be composted.
Alkaline hydrolysis is the preferred method of disposal by veterinary
colleges in the UK and USA.
In a recent report "Anaerobic Digestion: Benefits for Waste
Management, Agriculture, Energy and the Environment," the EPA
have declared this technology a win-win solution for farming, our
Kyoto targets and the environment.
Examples of contamination from incinerators
Municiple incinerator closed down due to the contamination of goat
grazing areas by dioxin emissions from the incinerator. Cheese found
to have dioxin levels in excess of French and EU safety limits.
Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
Halton Flour Mill and Dover Flour both threatened to discontinue purchasing
wheat in the area if a planned hazardous waste incinerator went ahead.
Cadbury UK have stated in writing that they will not purchase cocoa
from a cocoa mill next to a proposed incinerator.
Cattle in Italy
In July 2003 police in the region of Naples seized hundreds of head
of cattle from 7 different herds after tests showed abnormally high
levels of dioxin in both the animals and the soil. This area is known
for its production of milk products, including mozzarella cheese.
This brought the total number of animals removed from farms, since
March, to 10,000. There was an illegal plastics incinerator plant
operating in the area near the polluted land.
Belgian 'dioxin crisis' 1999
The Belgium ‘dioxin crisis’ of 1999
provides a salutary lesson. The Belgian food industry was badly damaged
when high levels of dioxin were discovered in eggs and chickens and
traced back to dioxin contaminated animal feed. Import bans by countries
worldwide included chicken, eggs,
meat, and any products containing eggs or milk. The Belgian government
estimated the cost of the crisis at €465 million.
"Six years ago, during the
Belgian dioxin crisis, I was stationed at Felixstowe border inspection
post as an official veterinary inspector. A blanket ban had been placed
on the importation of foodstuffs from Belgium because of feared dioxin
contamination. This crisis cost the Belgian economy millions of pounds
as well as a major loss in consumer confidence ...."
PATRICK McGINNITY, MVB, MRCVS, Keady, Co Armagh (Letter to Irish Times
Dioxin scare 2004
BRUSSELS, Belgium, November 5, 2004 - Fear of
dioxin contamination in European foods spread today on reports that
Dutch potato by-products tainted with the cancer causing chemical
had been sold to farmers in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.
More than 160 farms have been closed in the Netherlands
and Belgium after dioxin was found in dairy products. All of those
farms reportedly had received shipments of animal feed which contained
potato by-products from Canadian frozen potato chip fries manufacturer
McCain that were contaminated with dioxin. Read
Dioxin scare - February
China and Taiwan ban pork from three European
countries over dioxin scare.
News Asia Reuters