Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Skeptics Slam Scare Stories

Skeptics Slam Scare Stories as Endangering the Environment

A documentary which highlights the "distress, cruelty, horror, ecocide, cover-ups and contamination" involved in 1080-based pest control has won the Bent Spoon brickbat from the NZ Skeptics for 2009.

"Poisoning Paradise - Ecocide in New Zealand" claims that 1080 kills large numbers of native birds, poisons soils, persists in water and interferes with human hormones. Hunters-cum-documentary makers Clyde and Steve Graf believe that 1080 has "stuffed the venison business", and have been travelling the country showing their film since March.

The NZ Skeptics, along with other groups, are concerned that wide media coverage and nation-wide screenings of "Poisoning Paradise" will lead to a political push, rather than a scientifically based one, to drop 1080 as a form of pest control, with nothing effective to replace it.

United Future leader Peter Dunne appeared in the film, and described 1080 as "an indiscriminate untargeted killer". Emotions run high in the debate, with one anti-1080 campaigner going so far as to hijack a helicopter at gunpoint and last month threatening to die on Mount Tongariro unless the documentary received prime-time billing.

"Members of the NZ Skeptics are involved in various conservation efforts across the country. They have seen first-hand the effectiveness of 1080 drops and the brutal ineffectiveness of attempts to control pests by trapping and hunting, even in the smaller fenced arks, let alone in more rugged, isolated areas like Hawdon Valley or Kahurangi National Park," says Skeptics Chair-entity Vicki Hyde.

"People say that 1080 is cruel - so is a possum when it rips the heads off kokako chicks. Environmental issues aren´t simple. We are forever walking a difficult balancing act. At this stage, 1080 is the best option for helping our threatened species hang on or, even better, thrive. It would be devastating for our wildlife were we to abandon this."

Hyde has a particular interest in this area, having served for eight years on the Possum Biocontrol Bioethics Committee, alongside representatives from Forest & Bird, the RNZSPCA and Ngai Tahu. Over the past 20 years she has seen 1080 use become more effective with the advent of better knowledge and application methods, and acknowledges that there is always room for improvement.

"We would dearly love a quick, cheap, humane, highly targeted means of getting rid of possums and other pests but until that day comes, we cannot ignore the clear and present danger to our native wildlife. To do so would be environmentally irresponsible in the extreme."

Hyde notes that people should be careful in taking documentaries at face value. A 2007 TV3 documentary "Let Us Spray", and related news material, has just been cited as unbalanced, inaccurate and unfair by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

"We tend to assume that documentaries are balanced and tell us the whole story, but the increased use of advocacy journalism doesn´t mean this is always the case. After all, remember that psychic charades in programmes like `Sensing Murder´ are marketed as reality programmes!"

The NZ Skeptics also applaud the following, with Bravo Awards, for demonstrating critical thinking over the past year:

* Rebecca Palmer, for her article The Devil's in the Details (The Dominion Post 15 June 2009) pointing out that the makutu case owed more to "The Exorcist" than to tikanga Maori.

"Exorcism rituals, regardless of where they come from, have been shown to harm people, psychologically and physically. There are over 1,000 cases of murder, death and injury recorded on the whatstheharm.net website purely as a result of exorcisms reported in the Western world press over the past 15 years. There are thousands more that occur, for the most part unregarded, in places like Africa, South America or Papua New Guinea. These are all needless victims, often injured by people who care for them and who tragically just didn´t stop to think about the nature of what they were doing."

* Closeup for Hannah Ockelford´s piece Filtering the Truth (11 Sept 2009), regarding the dodgy sales tactics by an Australian organisation which claims that New Zealand's tap water can cause strokes, heart attacks, cancer and miscarriages. Paul Henry described the Australian promoter as a shyster using scare tactics targeting vulnerable people.

"This sort of solid investigative reporting makes a welcome change from the celeb and animal stories that so often pass for news and current affairs these days."

* Rob Harley and Anna McKessar for their documentary The Worst That Could Happen (Real Crime, TV1, 29 July 2009). They took a hard look at the increasing tendency for accusations of accessing computer porn to be made on unfounded grounds, and how it can have devastating consequences for people.

"Unprotected Internet use can be as life-changing as unprotected sex. It is disturbingly easy to have your computer unwittingly contaminated, and that makes people very vulnerable to job dismissals or even prosecutions on the most circumstantial of evidence."

* Colin Peacock and Jeremy Rose of Mediawatch on Radio New Zealand National

"Every week Colin and Jeremy cast a critical eye on New Zealand media. That´s something we all should be doing in demanding that we get thoughtful, informed news and analysis from our media."

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

World Refugee Day: What 7 Former Refugee Kids Love About New Zealand

New Zealand resettles 1,000 refugees each year (a number set to increase to 1,500 by 2020). More than half of these people are children under 18.

RASNZ, a specialist mental health and wellbeing service provider for people from refugee backgrounds, wanted to know what some of these young people thought of their new lives as kiwis.

They asked 7 members of their specialist youth service (along with two staff members who work with refugee background youth) how they felt about New Zealand – and filmed the responses. More>>

 

DHBs: Nurses Plan Strike Action For Next Month

Nurses across the country have confirmed a notice of a 24-hour strike, starting on 5 July. District Health Boards (DHB) were working on contingency plans following a notice to strike by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Tomorrow’s EU Trade Talks With NZ

One of the world’s most influential bureaucrats – the European Union’s Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom – will be in New Zealand tomorrow to launch the formal process of negotiating a bilateral trade pact between the EU and New Zealand. More>>

Oranga Tamariki: Children's Ministry Shifts Away From Putting Kids In Care

Children's Minister Tracey Martin is signalling a shift away from putting children into care, and towards intensive intervention in a child's home. More>>

But No Way To Tell Why: Significant Drop In HIV Diagnoses

A new report shows that for the first time since 2011, the number of annual HIV diagnoses in New Zealand has fallen. But without funding for a repeat of ongoing surveys to monitor changes in behaviour, testing and attitudes, health workers can’t be sure what’s driving the decrease. More>>

ALSO:

On Her Majesty's Public Service: Inquiry Into Spying Claims Extended To All Govt Agencies

In March, State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes announced an inquiry after it was revealed the firm spied on Canterbury earthquake claimants for Southern Response. The inquiry was furthered widened to include the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, who had been spying on Greenpeace staff. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A New Obstacle To The 'Hit & Run' Inquiry

With a minimum of publicity, a High Court ruling hit the tarmac last week concerning the use of security information that – if left unchallenged – could well cripple the recently announced government investigation into the Hit & Run allegations. More>>

DHB Offer Rejected: NZNO Seeking Urgent Mediation

The latest revised DHB MECA offer has been strongly rejected by NZNO members. However, Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne says that as nursing and midwifery is an essential service, mediation or facilitation will begin with urgency. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages