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Toxic Reaction to Government's “State Control” of 1080

Toxic Reaction to Government's “State Control” of 1080

Government proposals announced by Environment Minister Nick Smith to relieve local regional council of controls of resource consents for 1080 have been met with fiery opposition. Government proposals proposals transfer the public notification process around the use of 1080, brodifacoum and rotenone to government. Standard national controls would be set by government’s Environmental Protection Authority and replace the current system of individual regional councils setting their own "pest control" rules.

The move was supported by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) Jan Wright who in a major report five years ago, called for government control of 1080 drops because of the “labyrinthine and costly” process through councils.

But the move has been seen as totalarian, undemocratic and panicked reaction by government.

Co-chairman of the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations Andi Cockroft said Smith’s move to state control posed the question whether Government was now beginning to "panic and retreat" in the face of mounting public disquiet about 1080. Convenor of the Sporting Hunters Trust (SHOT) Laurie Collins of the West Coast said over 90% of West Coast public were concerned and opposed to 1080. He questioned government’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright’s credibility to back 1080 saying her qualification was in physics not biology or the environment. Laurie Collins said within SHOT’s ranks were environmental scientists and planners, just as qualified as the PCE.

“It’s another way Environment Minister Nick Smith can escalate 1080 drops. Under state control the first people will know of a 1080 drop will be a helicopter laden with poison, passing overhead.”

He said the rapidly growing number of New Zealanders opposed to 1080 should look to next year’s general election ballot box.

Farmers Against 1080 (FATE) convenor and Harihari dairy farmer Mary Molloy said government was obviously concerned about the public becoming more and more irate at the continued short rotation 1080 aerial drops, the poisonous pellets in their public and private water ways and on public land recreation areas. “

The move to state control would effectively muffle the "noisy growing public unease” and would remove the right and ability of public to point out dangers to their communities of 1080. 1080 was a “world recognised deadly poison” - colourless, tasteless, odourless and with no meaningful antidote. Farmers Against Ten Eighty wanted the poison banned to halt the ecological and environmental damage. 1080, originally developed as an insecticide was lethal to insects, birds animals with its effects of aquatic ecosystems largely unknown.

Wairarapa conservationist Bill Benfield and author of two books on the subject, said the move by Nick Smith was a major concern and had potentially extreme ramifications.

“On the information we have at the moment, the minister (Smith) intends to pursue a new Regulation under section 360 (h) of the RMA, that will exempt the three poisons, brodifacoum, 1080 and waterway fish poison (rotenone) from the discharge controls in section 15. I. Further, he appears to not want these poisons to be subject to a National Environmental Standard (NES).”

In other words, the poisons would be used with little or no public notification.

“As the government is committed to eliminating non-native creatures from National parks, there is a very real worry that rotenone could be discretely used against non-native trout as they have already done at Wellington’s Zealandia sanctuary.”

Conservationist Lewis Hore of Oamaru said the increasing number of New Zealanders becoming aware of the waste and ecological damage of 1080 drops had “spooked” Environment Minister Nick Smith.

“The increasing pressure to stop the widespread use of the super toxin 1080 poison from more and more people as they become aware of the serious damage it is causing to the environment has forced the Government to take complete control of the toxins use produced in the Government owned factory. Are they scared that their very profitable company may succumb to the mounting pressure and the seriously large profits made from their factory will disappear?” he asked.


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