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Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter’s assertion that climate change is the foremost public health issue will come as news to the many thousands of New Zealanders suffering from cancer, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“For cancer sufferers, getting the right treatment is the priority, not the carbon footprint of their hospital meal.

“Each day, 63 New Zealanders find out they have cancer. It’s simply out of touch to prioritise decreasing the amount of meat in sick Kiwis’ diets over investment in cancer drugs.

“And the Ministry of Health’s data on the carbon emissions of the health sector isn’t even accurate. The NGO reports referenced don’t take into account the innovation and sustainability of New Zealand’s agriculture sector: they use figures from some of the worst performing farms in other countries.

“NGOs shouldn’t be running our hospital kitchens.

“Dairy alternatives in this country have a larger carbon footprint than dairy products, so steering our sickest patients towards a plant-based diet could even be a false economy.

“It’s important to ensure hospital meals meet the nutritional needs of patients as they go through their treatment rather than conforming to the whims of the Minister.

“The Government shouldn’t let its policy direction be dictated by dodgy data.”

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