NZ Herald: Study calls into question Govt’s folic-acid block

Martin Johnston of the New Zealand Herald writes about new research which puts to rest fears about a relationship between folic acid and cancer.

The issue of mandatory folic acid fortification sparked intense public debate earlier this year, with the end result being a deferment of the issue until 2012.

The research’s findings have prompted some to call for the Government to revisit this decision and look into the issue earlier.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“But now the Food Standards Agency in Britain, where similar concerns were raised, has released research that concludes: “The new evidence does not provide a substantial basis to change [the] previous recommendation for the introduction of mandatory fortification” of bread flour.

“Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin present in many foods including leafy vegetables and wholemeal bread.

“As the New Zealand diet contains too little, women are encouraged to take folic acid supplements when planning to become pregnant, to reduce the risk of fetuses with defects like spina bifida. Fortification was proposed because many pregnancies are not planned, although supplementation would still have been advised.”