New 1080 Kinder To The Environment
A new, improved version of the possum-killing 1080 poison is being developed in New Zealand in a project aimed at making the poison more socially and environmentally acceptable.
Feral Control of Auckland now has the technology to make the active ingredient, sodium monofluoroacetate (1080), and plans to improve the chemical formulation. The company, working in collaboration with Landcare Research NZ Ltd, has already produced a significantly more refined product than is currently available. The active ingredient is more than 99 percent pure.
“Contrary to what everyone seems to think, 1080 is not made in New Zealand,” Feral Control development manager Jeremy Kerr says. “The 1080 active ingredient is imported and the finished bait is made and applied in New Zealand, but the sodium monofluoroacetate  active ingredient has always been made by a chemical company in Alabama, USA.
"It is the only manufacturer of this product in the world, and New Zealand takes 85 to 90 percent of the production.”
Feral Control has begun a project, supported by Technology New Zealand – the Government agency that invests in research into new products, processes or services – to “re-engineer” 1080.
“We’re going to alter the formulation so there’s no half-life – where a poison continues to be active in a dead animal. In other words, it won’t kill dogs, cats and birds that try to eat the carcasses of animals killed by it,” Mr Kerr says. The 1080 product decomposes quickly in water and soils but is persistent in animal tissue.
The project aims to improve 1080’s environmental effectiveness, “and its profile”.
“It’s an extremely good toxin, but persistent. In its present form, it takes a long time to break down in dead animal tissue.”
Most of the reformulated 1080 produced by Feral Control will continue to be used in New Zealand and Australia, and Mr Kerr says significant potential exists to market overseas.
Aerial and ground-laid 1080 bait remains as one the most effective means of eliminating pests. However, the public and the pest-control industry are increasingly demanding more environmentally acceptable poisons that kill nothing but the target pest.