Coalition divided over 1080

Green MP Eugenie Sage.

Do not go looking for an open and transparent government response to the question of using 1080 poison drops, because you won’t find it.

A 2016 independent report had this to say about 1080.  Quote.

For over 15 years the New Zealand Government has been systematically dropping massive amounts of food, laced with a cruel and universally toxic poison into its forest ecosystems.

Enough poison every year to kill the entire population of NZ four times over. No other country is doing, or ever has done, anything remotely similar on such a scale.

1080 is an alias for Monofluoroacetate, a chemical. It blocks a particular step in the Krebs Cycle (Citric Acid Cycle) which is essential for the metabolism of oxygen in every cell of every animal.

It kills everything that breathes air, everything from earthworms to elephants, including native birds.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies 1080 as ‘Extremely Hazardous’, most countries ban it outright.

NZ uses 85% of the world’s supply.” End of quote.

Incongruously, the strongest advocate for the use of 1080 is Green MP Eugenie Sage.

1080 kills birds

The recent uproar of protest from affected communities indicates that much more research needs to be done and debated.  Mouths in parliament are clamped firmly shut on the subject.  Quote.

Activists against 1080 say not enough research has been undertaken over its safety, alleging it contaminates the country’s water supply, makes New Zealanders sick, and kills animals like deer and native birds.”

“The consequences of spreading poison over New Zealand’s environment and into our water supplies is certainly contributing to ill health and death,” environmental lawyer Sue Grey told RadioLIVE. End of quote.

Grey is a high profile anti-1080 lawyer who appealed to the Environmental Court last month to block the Auckland City Council from dropping 1080 in the Hunua Ranges near dams which provide two-thirds of Auckland’s drinking water.   Quote.

While there is a 20-metre buffer zone around the dams where 1080 is not dropped, the Trust and Hunua’s residents fear the dropping of the poison into waterways further away means it could not be kept out of the storage dams.End of quote.

Despite knowing the court was considering an injunction, the Auckland City Council went ahead with a non-toxic pre-feed drop.  Quote.

“I know they flout the public concern but to flout the court and the law seems to be going beyond the pale.” End of quote. 

Just over a year ago, New Zealand First’s list MP Richard Prosser was against using 1080 for predator control.  He said.  Quote:

“New Zealand First stands solidly behind the right … of ordinary New Zealanders to go and take food from the bush.”  End of quote.

Alternatives to using 1080 were being worked on back then and NZ First promised to push the research along. Quote.

Peters promised in March that he would immediately allocate adequate resourcing, and initiate proper and urgent research, into alternatives to 1080”End of quote.

In 2017 Peters promised to halt 1080 drops if elected into government.  Since then he has been strangely quiet; so it’s doubtful he followed through on funding more research or halting the practice. He has acquiesced to Eugenie Sage as she pushes her Forest and Bird barrow with a vengeance.

Sage worked for Forest and Bird’s agenda for 13 years and received a lifetime membership, as opposed to five minutes in government.  Make no mistake, this grey-haired granny-figure is Forest and Bird’s rampant campaigner for the use of 1080.

Sage worked for the Labour party for five years in the 1980s, including as Helen Clark’s press secretary, and gravitated to the Greens after she was sacked by Environment Canterbury.

But Sage faces resistance from within her own party.  When protesters dropped fake 1080 and dead birds over parliament steps last month, Green party co-leader Marama Davidson told reporters that protesters had valid concerns.  Quote.

They’re concerned about water and they’re concerned about aerial drops. We need to keep having considered conversations about saving our forests, our birds and our native species.

“It’s not the strategy or tactics I’d use, but they are trying to be heard and we need to keep listening.” End of quote.

It is not often I would see eye to eye with Marama Davidson but, in this, she is quite correct.

In 2011 the Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, produced a report on the use of 1080 which served as a benchmark for both major political parties to take a positive stance on the subject.  Wright said: quote.

…the pesticide was safe and necessary to protect native birds.

“While I respect the sincerity of those who oppose the use of 1080, without it our ability to protect many of our native plants and animals would be lost.”

The Labour Party backed Wright’s report, saying it provided an evidence base for people to form their views around 1080.

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson said the National-led Government had no plans to increase the use of 1080, but would look at ways it could be used more effectively.

Research to develop other pesticides is continuing. There are at least 30 research projects underway industry-wide to find improvements and alternatives, according to DOC.”  End of quote.

That was seven years ago.  Where are the results from 30 research projects?  Has Sage recently ramped up the use of 1080 without telling us?  Quote.

Up to 345 red deer are feared to have been killed after the drop at Molesworth Station in the South Island last October.”

As much as 75 kilograms of the poison was dumped by a contractor working for the Department of Conservation (DoC), which has now called in police and other authorities.

The pristine New Zealand bush on the island is remote and unspoilt – but the dump had enough poison to kill potentially hundreds of animals.

— if the 1080 hits the ground it will kill anything that eats it – including our indigenous kiwi. Even eating insects or bugs that have ingested it can harm them.” End of quote.

It is imperative that we receive the results of alternative pest control research.

We also need more information on how 1080 affects us and the environment, particularly our waterways.  Quote.

The consequences of spreading poison over New Zealand’s environment and into our water supplies is certainly contributing to ill health and death,” environmental lawyer Sue Grey told RadioLIVE.

But Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage is not buying it, and wants to put a stop to the debate once and for all.

“There have been over 2000 samples taken from waterways and none have shown that 1080 has levels that breach drinking water standards,” she said.” End of quote.

Sage can try and shut down conversations on 1080 all she likes, but we will have those discussions.  We need facts and reliable information on its wider effects.

Putting aside recent death threats made by anti-1080 nut-jobs still leaves unanswered questions.

  • What are the risks of 1080 to humans?
  • Are doctors testing for 1080 poisoning?
  • Has the use of 1080 increased since the 2013 report?
  • When is the government going to produce an up to date 1080 report?
  • What are the alternatives to 1080?
  • What is the effect of 1080 in our environment, waterways and food chain?

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