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Conservation Group Calls for Royal Commission on 1080

Conservation Group Calls for Royal Commission on 1080

A Coromandel conservation group has called on Prime Minister John Key to back a Royal Commission to investigate and report on use of the controversial toxin 1080 in the New Zealand environment.

The Upper Coromandel Landcare Association (UCLA) issued the urgent request in response to an Environmental Protection Agency decision not to proceed with a five-year reassessment of the poison.

UCLA pointed out the EPA’s decision against reassessment was based on an internal five-year report that relied primarily on information supplied by users of the toxin and agencies that advocate for continued poison operations and relaxed consultation and reporting requirements.

UCLA spokesperson Reihana Robinson said the EPA report failed to properly address critical issues that have arisen since 2008, including serious life-threatening operational accidents, inadequate monitoring, animal cruelty, damage to populations of protected native species, expanded use in easily accessible terrain, potential economic damage to New Zealand’s tourist and export industries, and opposition from tangata whenua, the general public, and territorial authorities.

“The EPA says explicitly that its 1080 report was prepared for those involved in managing and undertaking aerial 1080 pest control”, Robinson said. “Its report is a support document to protect the $100 million 1080 industry and not that of an independent watchdog working in the public interest. The report and decision not to reassess are thoroughly tainted.”

In its appeal to the prime minister for establishment of a Royal Commission, UCLA cited the need for independent review of all scientific research on the toxin and its known and potential effects on humans, animal and plant populations, and whole ecosystems.

The Coromandel group maintains only a Royal Commission can provide the impartiality and independence required for a credible enquiry. It cites the need for panel member expertise in toxicology, animal and plant physiology, medicine, biochemistry, ethics, and environmental sciences.

According to Robinson, “the wide scope and broad mandate of a Royal Commission on 1080 would assure that all New Zealanders benefit from the best science and an unbiased panel of qualified experts.”

“It is no longer acceptable to get our information on this deadly poison through DOC and council public relations filters, from researchers with an economic interest or bias, and from unqualified EPA staff. Our health and that of future generations, the stability of entire ecosystems, and our clean export economy are all dependent on a complete and unbiased reassessment of current policy and practices”, Robinson said.

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