A French TV journalist is arriving this month to do a story on our possum, and the use of 1080 poison in New Zealand.
Dr. Quinn Whiting-Okeefe was asked by the researcher about papers used to support the use of 1080 poison. His comments, in blue, follow...
The essential facts and references are in Poisoning Paradise.
As scientists we would make five points:
First, the basic claim that one can put a universal poison into high quality food and drop in indiscriminately into ecosystems and only have a negative effect on two target species is a priori extremely improbable. Such a claim should be viewed with utmost suspicion unless supported by the highest quality of scientific research. In fact there is no research at all addressing ecosystem level consequences of this bizarre program. Furthermore, individual studies are so poorly done and obviously biased as to be laughable.
Second, the NZ government's program of mass ecosystem poisoning is unprecedented so far as we can determine, i.e., no other country is doing or has ever done anything remotely similar to what the Department of Conservation in New Zealand is doing, unless one counts the US military’s mass poisoning with agent orange (dioxin) during its part of the Vietnam War, the consequences of which for the people of Vietnam were disastrous including birth defects and increased rates of various malignancies.
Third, DoC’s own data show convincingly that many native species of birds and invertebrates are being killed by its aerial 1080 program. In several species the measured per drop kill rate is over 20% and in one over 30%.
Fourth, there is not a single scientifically credible study showing a benefit of aerial 1080 to any native species—not one. In fact, DoC’s “research” attempting to show this is almost entirely junk.
Fifth, universally accepted standards of research design are almost never followed by DoC funded studies. In fact it is recently claimed in an author-less paper published by DoC that such standards are “not applicable to ecology research” in New Zealand. What this implies is that the claims of the authors of these papers represent little more than the prejudices of their bosses at DoC whose budget is increased by at least $100M/year by the aerial 1080 program that indiscriminately spreads enough 1080 around the country to kill the entire human population of New Zealand 4 times over.
The whole thing is difficult to believe.
Unfortunately, there appear to be very few scientists in New Zealand that really care about what's taking place in our environment, or perhaps it's that they really don't know.
Or are they just afraid to speak out?
One thing I can say is, that what scientists like Dr. Whiting-Okeefe are saying is more consistent with what we've observed after years of investigating poison drop zones.
The view that 1080 is helping our forests, and that bird-life is abundant after aerial poison drops, is complete non-sense. We have traveled the country, visiting many drop sites, and we are yet to see any evidence of benefit from the use of 1080 poison. There is none!