Science in the House? (Folate supplementation)

By Grant Jacobs 13/10/2010

Today Labour Member Moana Mackey re-opened the folate-in-bread debate, putting forward a Member’s Notice of Motion: ‘Disallowance of the New Zealand (Mandatory Fortification of Bread with Folic Acid) Amendment Food Standard 2009’. Below are her presentation of the motion and the initial reply to it.

(Ms. Mackey is another example of use of a science degree outside of a traditional research setting (a topic I touched on in my previous article and elsewhere) having a B.Sc.(Hons, 1st Class) in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, as documented on her Parliamentary resume.)

Part II opens with the Minister of Food and Safety’s reply:

Those wanting the full saga, can pick up the remaining parts from the In The House website.

There is a brief introduction to the science background in an older article at bioBlog. I leave this for readers for discussion without comment – bar one.

In opening her reply, Hon. Kate Wilkinson (Minister of Food and Safety) says that the policy was moved to be removed following concerns expressed by the public. I would question if an important element to her argument is if these concerns were based on information that was correct and well-founded.

A quick inspection of the comments in response to the Yahoo Xtra News press release* suggests a good number of the opinions expressed on that forum are founded on incorrect beliefs. If this is representative of the wider public, then this would be a point of concern.

What do you think?

(As an aside, some readers may recall my pointing out (with a little humour) that just because a lot of people say something, doesn’t make it correct or sensible.)

* I’m looking at the comments to their announcement: their brief announcement itself has the wrong end of the stick.

Other articles in Code for life:

Popularity does not mean effectiveness or sensibility

New Zealand science and science education policy news

Finding platypus venom

Coiling bacterial DNA

Preserving endangered species — of gut microbes

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