Truth be told, folic acid is not my favourite low pH chemical. Lysergic acid would probably come tops on that league table, followed by acetic (on the Fush n Chups), citric (for vodka), and hydrochloric (all-purpose). Folic acid would sit somewhere way beneath even sulphuric acid, so useless is it to me on a personal utility basis. However, folic acid is integral in maintaining good DNA, like rust-proofing a car or tarring a hull. Important as it is, I still don't care. I get my share of this nerd of acids regardless due to a jar of Marmite in the pantry.
However, the circumstances of fertile women are somewhat different from mine. A deficiency of folic acid in women who become pregnant is a leading cause of spina bifida. Spina bifida is a bone fide bloody awful thing to have. A mate of mine, Madame Guru, once worked for a charity fundraising arm of a Spina Bifida NGO and she filled me in on all the misery that goes with it. A lifespan lucky to reach into one's twenties, the contorted bones, etc. It's a goddamned shame to risk such affliction unnecessarily.
So I can sort of see where Nanny Labour Five was coming from when Oz offered an easy out in their trans-Tasman accord. Only thing is, there's a significant minority around this land that already have doubts on the fluorodation of public water supplies. Throwing folic acid indiscriminately in everyone's bread to save, what, 3 lives a year?, was bound to stir up a hassle. C'mon, look how the public reacted to the shower nozzle hosing. Turning food into medicine was always going to be a problem.
It says a lot by how Kate Wilkinson and National have been so completely blindsided by this thing. The Nanny State antogonism was a large part of National's election platform not one year ago and here they are crunching the gears over the adulterated bread.
It's not as if we export bread to the Lucky Country. Why should Oz care how we make our staple? Can't be arsed looking, but how much of NZ's wheat is sourced from Oz? I'm assuming it's quite a bit. Maybe it's because it might be easier just to folate all our flour along with the rest of Oz's, seeing how their populace wouldn't know how to make a tortilla from scratch if their life depended on it, what with all the processed crap on their menu. That would save the wheat producers a bit of hassle at their end. So this is not just a matter of three lives a year. The folate thing lowers an export barrier to the Oz suppliers, seeing as how they won't need to differentiate our product from their own.
As for the folate cancer link, who knows? I do know that kids eat a craptonne more bread than the fickle fertile chicks. Best source of folate for them is their predilection for spinach and feta cannelloni. Mind you, folate is not the only thing these chicks lack. It's iron. By far the easiest way to solve the spina bifida problem without favouring the Ozzies is simple. Make chicks eat Marmite. That way you can leave the bread alone.
OK, because I'm a pluralist, I'll plug Vegemite too. And if you're looking for an experiment in excess folic acid consumption, see what happens to the consumers of their new Vegemite Cream Cheese concoction, which I call Vegecrack. I bet Kraft Inc. are hoping it works out better for their bottom line than their last Cheese with Vegemite experiment.
P.S. Vegemite - Fuck your EULA.