1080 A Dirty Green Poison

The decision by ERMA to allow ongoing aerial drops of 1080 for possum control leaves no real incentive for operators in so-called ‘clean green’ New Zealand to find an alternative, according to the Soil & Health Association.

“ERMA continues to base its decisions on economics, rather than on environmental precaution,” said Soil & Heath spokesperson Steffan Browning. “ERMA is choosing ‘dirty green’ over ‘clean green’. ERMA spin that TB control is part of our clean green image, is rubbish when it is by widespread aerial poisoning.”

New Zealand uses 80% of the world’s production of the often green-dyed pesticide 1080, which is a manufactured chemical compound called sodium fluoroacetate or sodium monofluoroacetate.

The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) said in its decision, “it does not give the aerial application of 1080 a green light so much as a flashing amber light – ‘proceed, but with caution.’”

Section 7 of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act requires that those making decisions under it shall take into account “… the need for caution in managing adverse effects where there is scientific and technical uncertainty about those effects.”

“Soil & Health predicts there will be little change to the current aerial drops, which represent 94 percent of the 1080 toxins use.” Says Browning. “The ‘flashing amber light’ lacks the precautionary approach that is required under New Zealand’s international obligations. There is no amber light or sunset clause, just monitoring under economic imperatives.”

“The areas of uncertainty according to ERMA are to be further researched, but ERMA’s recommended studies are not inclusive enough, and the adage that lack of evidence does not constitute lack of effects, must be considered. Studies need to be designed by more than those following the current economic argument. DOC, Landcare, MAF and Forest & Bird all promote 1080 based on economic concerns.”

“Soil & Health strongly shares biodiversity concerns, but knows that very effective control can happen by ground control, and is concerned that those closely interested in biodiversity may be missing strong ecological points as they accept the current economic-based solution.”

“The decision is littered with cost-based comments against ground control and has failed to demand that ground-based control must be used in most instances although most areas are accessible. The current economic threshold used in decision-making must be changed to make ground-based controls financially feasible.”

“ERMA’s message that regular aerial scattering of huge amounts of poison on New Zealand’s picture postcard wilderness is better than employing people on the ground to manage pest control, does nothing for the clean green image that DOC, MAF, and Forest & Bird, the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition refer to when it suits,” said Browning, “Nor will the genetically engineered possum control alternatives (that Landcare Research is experimenting with) be good for the New Zealand clean green brand.”

“Soil & Health sees an organic future where decisions are made considering the full toxic cost, and decisions create economic incentives for solutions that we can be proud of.”o.nz

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