Saturday, March 5, 2011

Another scientist adds her weight to the 1080 debacle

Background to the Index to the 1080 Decision

Dr Jo Pollard, an independent scientist from Otago with a BSc (Hons) and PhD in Zoology has created an “Index to the Environmental Risk Management Authority 1080 Decision Documents”.

This Index came about because prior to 2007 Jo had many unsatisfying debates with a friend from DoC about the value of 1080 in protecting NZ’s biodiversity. It was inconceivable to her that a universal poison would only kill the animals that DoC wanted it to, and her friend’s arguments never seemed to contain any substance. She saw ERMA’s 1080 review as an opportunity to finally see the evidence that her friend believed in so strongly, and started reading the evidence put forward by DoC and the AHB.

However the more she read the less convinced she became that there was any value at all in 1080. In fact it seemed more likely to be having severe negative effects on biodiversity and possibly human health.

Jo made written and oral submissions to ERMA and when, incredibly, the ERMA decision was to approve further, more widespread 1080 use, she vowed to make time to review and present the evidence she had read in such a convincing way that people ignorant of its real effects could not possibly argue with the facts.

The result is the Index. Jo has taken 1624 quotes from the material used in the ERMA decision, and re-arranged them into 49 tabulated sections, such as cancer, biodegradation, biodiversity etc. Each quote appears in the Index along with its source and a reference number. The Index is designed to make access to the information used by ERMA easy and fast.

Professionally, Jo is dedicated to good quality science and expects that government departments responsible for protecting New Zealand’s biodiversity should be too.

Her Index demonstrates:

1.      The appalling quality of the data used by ERMA in making its decision and setting controls.
2.      The serious risks to biodiversity and human health caused by 1080.
3.      The lack of any valid data supporting the use of 1080 by the Department of Conservation (DoC) or the Animal Health Board (AHB).
Below is a flyer Dr Pollard has created to highlight a few of the issues assembled from the ERMA review.
A copy of her full report is available as a bound index of 186 pages with 49 subjects (eg bats, lizards, TB) for $45, or on disc for $10 from P.O.Box 35, Outram, Otago.

Dr. Jo Pollard .....
The 1080 Decision documents(1) contain clear evidence that 1080:
Spreads as dust throughout and beyond aerial application zones, and rapidly up food chains, rapidly in water.   

Is toxic to all forms of life: microbes, algae, terrestrial plants, invertebrates, fish, birds, mammals. Native birds killed include fernbirds, keas, kakas, moreporks and massive numbers of insectivorous birds such as tomtits and robins.

Persists in carcasses, baits, tree canopies, dry places, cold places, hot places, cool water, water lacking aquatic plants, acid soils, other soils, and possibly anywhere at low concentrations.  

Reaches high levels after uptake e.g. in fish, insects & koura.

Causes large increases in rat populations starting from nearly zero to plagues within 2 years, mouse plagues, and rapid buildup of possum numbers, as well as increases in other invasive pests (eg mynas and rosellas).

Is likely to cause “prey switching”, eg when rats are killed, stoats eat birds instead.

Has not been shown to be of any benefit to biodiversity (reviewed by Whiting & O’Keefe, 2007).

Causes birth defects, damage to reproductive organs, reduced fertility, and damage to other organs including heart and brain, in mammals and other animals.

Contaminates factory and field workers.

Is particularly risky to human health because it is so toxic, hard to detect, has a long latency period before symptoms occur, and has no antidote.

Is unsuitable as an effective poison because
· Toxicity varies enormously with temperature, and between individuals, strains and species of animals, and between pieces of bait. Bait shyness of sub-lethally poisoned possums is a significant problem in 1080 operations · Genetically resistant strains of pests appear when it is when applied repeatedly · Analysis for 1080 contamination is very expensive.

Was unfairly and inappropriately discussed with Maori in the 1080 reassessment.

Causes prolonged animal suffering, with sickness, death and permanent debility.

Is not the best use of farmers’ money for Tb control. All Tb-carrying wildlife & stock in (typically) isolated “hot spots” of Tb should be targeted, using humane, safe methods, if the AHB’s goals can be justified.

Has been under-reported, due to degradation in samples under field conditions and during frozen storage, and adsorption onto any filter paper used in testing.

Is of more danger to dogs now since the ERMA decision: the poison is more widespread, signs are smaller and must be removed after 6 months, and no longer have to give 3 days’ warning.

Has harmful breakdown products including fluoride and (highly toxic) fluorocitrate.

Was  approved without sufficient validation, use of expert opinion, or objectivity, as required by law.

(1) The documents used by the Environmental Risk Management Authority in deciding on continued 1080 use in 2007: the Agency's E&R report, the Committee's decision, and the Applicant's (Animal Health Board and Department of Conservation) references. Visit or buy the index to the ERMA 1080 decision. Details below.

A copy of the full report is available as a bound index of 186 pages with 49 subjects (eg bats, lizards, TB) for $45, or on disc for $10 from P.O.Box 35, Outram, Otago.