11 Mar 2015

1080 threat from overseas, manufacturer says

5:20 am on 11 March 2015

New Zealand's biggest manufacturer of 1080 products believes concentrated 1080 sent to Fonterra and Federated Farmers as part of a blackmail threat came from overseas.

Police yesterday revealed they had spent more than three months investigating a blackmail threat to poison New Zealand milk products but said they now needed help from the public.

Fonterra and Federated Farmers were sent a letter each in November containing a blackmail threat and powder, which tested positive for concentrated forms of 1080. No more correspondence had been received from the letter writer since.

William McCook, chief executive of State-owned enterprise Animal Control Products (ACP) said his company was New Zealand's principal manufacturer of 1080 products and used it to control such pests as possums, rats and stoats.

He said other companies also produced 1080-based products but the substance was one of the most tightly controlled in New Zealand and he was fully confident the powder in the letters had not come from within the country.

"We're not the only country in the world that uses 1080 products," he told Radio New Zealand.

"Hopefully the police will find whoever has brought this into the country and deal with it quickly and effectively."

Anyone wanting to use 1080 had to pass a police check and do training, as well as strictly recording such things as its use and transport, Mr McCook said.

"It's one of the most regulated and reviewed products that we have," he said.

1080 poison is made by the Tull Chemical Company in Alabama, in the United States, and is banned by most of the world. It is the only company making it.

In New Zealand, the poison is then manufactured into pellets by Animal Control Products Ltd (ACP), a Crown-owned company, which manufactures more than 90 per cent of the pesticide formulations containing 1080 used in New Zealand. ACP has a manufacturing site in Whanganui and previously had one in Waimate, according to the Environmental Protection Authority.

The most commonly used form of 1080 in New Zealand was compressed cereal bait, which had an active 1080 element of 0.15 percent and was applied at a rate of 1-2kg per hectare.

Mr McCook did not believe it would be possible to grind up the cereal bait enough to produce the powder sent to Fonterra and Federated Farmers.

He said New Zealand needed and relied upon 1080 to control pests, and his company had a perfect track record with the substance.

"We're very confident that that's still the case."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs