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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-06-11

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, June 11, 1999


Job Centre



/ 'Panic spreads' over dioxin food scare


THE DIOXIN food scare dominated yesterday's front pages, with most papers taking a critical stand on the government' handling of the issue.

Politis, under the headline 'Panic about food', blamed the "unclear information" given by the government for the panic that had spread among consumers. While the health department was removing the Belgian products suspected of containing dioxin from supermarket shelves, "frustrated consumers are demanding, here and now, a list with the brand names of all dangerous products", it said.

While European countries, including Belgium, had issued lists of the products that could contain dioxin, the Cyprus authorities did not consider it necessary to do so, the paper said. The lack of information had also affected many importing companies, which were doing everything to protect their products, it said.

Haravghi said there was still a question mark over whether members of the Cyprus public had consumed food containing dioxin, as large quantities of butter and chocolate had been imported from Belgium by local food producers. The paper also claimed that there were doubts about imported animal fodder, despite assurances by the Ministry of Agriculture that these were safe.

The problem was that Cyprus, like many European countries, did not posses the specialised laboratories needed to trace dioxin in food. As a result, the Cyprus authorities relied on the assurances given by the countries which supplied the suspicious products, without being in a position independently to confirm that the food was safe.

Simerini played up the health risk, giving prominence to the possible effects on children that the consumption of food containing dioxin would have. It quoted a senior medical officer at the Ministry of Health as saying that the effects of eating food containing dioxin would take years to appear.

In ten years' time, children who had consumed large quantities of food containing dioxin could suffer from cancer, liver diseases, neurological problems and sexual problems, the doctor told the paper. Once poisons such as dioxin entered the body, they attacked and destroyed the immune system, which was why it could take up to 10 years before their effects surfaced.

Machi also focused on the medical side of the issue in its front-page editorial, saying the symptoms caused by consumption of dioxin were the same as those of DDT. It did not only cause cancer, but also severe hormonal imbalance. Consumers were urged to be careful about what they bought.

Alithia led with a report about the arms cache found in the house in Galata village of the late Ioannis Koukoularides, father of Charalambos, a former chief of the intelligence service Kyp. The paper said that the arms find took on political dimensions as Charalambos Koukoularides, who had died recently, was a "well-known henchman" of Spyros Kyprianou, having been in charge of presidential palace security during the Kyprianou presidency.

According to the paper, in 1979, during Kyprianou's presidency, some 19,000 cartridges had been taken from the stores of the police HQ and, allegedly, had been given to Koukoularides' "armed gang". The man in charge of the police stores had been given instructions from above not to report the incident, but to say instead that the cartridges had been used during police training.

Phileleftheros led with a report about the "frenzied behind-the-scenes activity" at the UN Security Council, the G8 and the foreign ministries of Britain and the US with regard to the Cyprus problem. All these groupings were looking for the golden mean between the positions of the two sides, so that a framework for negotiations could be worked out.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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