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Ravensdown Suspends DCD While Trade Issues Are Addressed

MEDIA RELEASE 24 January 2013

Ravensdown Suspends DCD While Trade Issues Are Addressed

Ravensdown announces today that, with immediate effect, it is suspending the sales and application of its eco-n product which contains DCD.

“The reputation of New Zealand as a quality food producer is as important to us as it is to our farmer owners. So it is reassuring that both the MPI’s and our own peer-reviewed research shows there are no food safety issues with DCD or eco-n,” comments Greg Campbell Ravensdown Chief Executive. “What’s changed is that last year, organisations like the US Food and Drug Administration added DCD to a list of substances to test for. This, combined with increasingly sophisticated scanning technology now presents a possible trade risk. Given the risk to NZ’s dairy export reputation, Ravensdown has taken the initiative and is suspending the single product which uses DCD for this calendar year.”

“As DCD has been used safely around the world for 30 years, there has never been a set of international standards around maximum residue level in food products. Because no standard exists for DCD, no detectable presence is acceptable. And because zero detection of DCD cannot be guaranteed, Ravensdown has taken the responsible, voluntary step to suspend its use while the trade issues are resolved,” added Greg.

In December last year, the Ministry for Primary Industries initiated a working party to assess the use of dicyandiamide (DCD) on farm land. The working group comprises representatives from MPI, Fonterra, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and fertiliser companies Ravensdown and Ballance.

The working group was set up after testing on whole milk powder detected the occasional presence of low levels of DCD coinciding with the times of the year that the product is applied.

DCD, which is applied to pasture in autumn, winter and spring, has been used to reduce nitrate leaching and greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand for nearly a decade.

“Though this news is disappointing for the 500 customers who use eco-n, the potential risk demanded decisive and pre-emptive action ahead of the autumn application season,” said Ravensdown’s Greg Campbell.

Even without eco-n, Ravensdown continues to help farmers lift their production and lower their environmental footprint. The farmer-owned co-operative does this through whole-farm testing, nutrient management planning and advice plus precise fertiliser application.

“We continue to help farmers produce top quality food and do all we can to support New Zealand’s export story in a complex world of international trading partners and regulations. We’ll be foregoing sales of eco-n, which makes up about 1% of Ravensdown’s annual revenues, but we are a 100% farmer-owned co-operative concerned with the long-term future of the rural sector,” added Greg Campbell.

“In the long-term, mitigating nitrate leaching is vital for sustainable New Zealand farming. The effectiveness of nitrification inhibitors like DCD is well proven and helps farmers in the face of stricter requirements being imposed on them. So we’ll be looking to the Ministry for Primary Industries through the working party to initiate the potentially-lengthy process of seeking a new international standard to recognise DCD. This would then specify a level or maximum residue which New Zealand dairy exporters and producers could work below,” concluded Greg.

Meanwhile customers who have any questions about eco-n should call Ravensdown on 0800 100 123.

About Ravensdown:

100% farmer-owned Ravensdown is Australasia’s largest fertiliser co-operative, providing farmers with the tools, advice and inputs to lift their production and lower their environmental footprint.

Facts about dicyandiamide

DCD is the active ingredient of Ravensdown’s eco-n. Eco-n is applied as a fine particle suspension spray to grazed pastures to control nitrogen losses from cow urine patches. Here are some other DCD facts:

1. DCD is short for dicyandiamide (DCD) and was developed about 30 years ago.

2. DCD is a compound which is widely used in a number of industries including electronics, pharmaceuticals and food packaging. It has been researched thoroughly and found to pose no food safety concerns.

3. Since 2004, New Zealand farmers have used DCD to reduce their environmental footprint by slowing the rate that soil bacteria convert ammonia into nitrate and nitrous oxide.

4. Other countries also use DCD in cropping by applying it to nitrogen fertilisers.
5. DCD is a nitrification inhibitor which the dairy industry uses to reduce nitrate leaching into waterways and greenhouse gas emissions. See how they work here.
6. The NZ Ministry for Primary Industries recognises DCD as an effective technology for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
7. DCD is completely biodegradable in soil and leaves no residues in soil. It is not applied in the NZ summer months, but just before times of high drainage in autumn, winter and spring.
8. DCD is also a mitigation technology that has been incorporated into New Zealand’s annual greenhouse gas inventory submitted annually to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.


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