By Alison Campbell 18/09/2018 85


This one is cross-posted from The Daily Blog.

As Hayden Donnell said yesterday morning in The Spinoff, anti-1080 activism has become both noisy, and ugly. And, as is probably apparent to anyone with an internet connection and a social media account, that activism has taken to hijacking unrelated issues to attempt to spread its message.

On The Daily Blog, Christine Rose has likened this movement and its approach to the activities of those who believe in a range of conspiracy theories, all of which have a strong thread of science denialism running through them. And a lot of similarities in the statements that are made by their supporters:

If you look at the evidence, you’ll see that we’re right.

Yet, a very large number of good quality scientific studies show that, no, that’s not the case. (A lot of it is summarised here and here.) In fact, in beginning her investigation into the use of 1080, the former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment “expected that it would not be as effective and safe as it is” – reading through the scientific evidence convinced her otherwise.

It’s not effective, coupled with there are alternatives.

Yes, there are alternatives that can be used, where 1080 can’t, but they too have shortcomings. And yes, intensive trapping works to control pest species. Conservation groups such as Bay Bush Action have demonstrated this. But the problem is that those pests will always re-colonise from areas that haven’t been trapped (with the exceptions, of course, being offshore and mainland refugia such as Zealandia and Maungatautari). As Dr Jan Wright commented when releasing her 2011 report on the use of 1080:

“Possums, rats and stoats are chewing up our forests to the point that we are only a generation away from seeing regional extinctions of kiwis and other native species where no pest control is carried out. There are other pest control methods that are more suitable than 1080 in certain circumstances but on much of our conservation land there is currently nothing else that will effectively kill possums, rats and stoats.”

Why wouldn’t large-scale trapping, as advocated by those opposed to the use of 1080, do the trick? Bay Bush Action have done the calculations:

For a large scale trapping programme, you would need to cut tracks in grids 150 metres apart all through the bush. You would need to have hundreds of thousands of traps carried in, installed, maintained and set regularly. You need a forest that’s close by and terrain that’s easy so there are no gaps in pest control. You need to carry about 3kg of lure per kilometre of trapline. This means we can only realistically do multi-species trapping in a tiny area of a huge forest. And, even after all that, you would still not get rat numbers low enough to reintroduce species like kōkako without using toxin. This is the case with all trapping programs throughout Aotearoa.

To date, there is no group in our country that protects more than a 1000 hectares using best practice, multi-species pest control using only traps. To put that in perspective DOC manages 116,000 hectares of forest in Northland and Forest & Bird say nationally we need to bring 5,000,000 hectares under multi-species pest control.

And 1080 is definitely effective in controlling mammalian pests, particularly possums, which not only do enormous damage to native forest ecosystems but also harbour bovine TB. In addition, as this summary of a range of experimental and field research studies shows, there is no good evidence to support claims that it “kills everything”, while there is evidence to show how native species bounce back once predator numbers are controlled (see this resource from the Science Media Centre).

It poisons water supplies – except that the scientific evidence tells us otherwise. The maximum allowable level of fluoroacetate in water supplies is 2ppb (parts per billion). This limit has never been exceeded – and if it were, an average-sized adult male would need to drink 60,000 litres of water in one sitting before being affected.

Other countries don’t use it – apart from those that do: Australia, the US, Israel, Japan, and the Galapagos Islands use this compound, albeit on a smaller scale given the need to protect their native mammals. In New Zealand, the only native land mammals are our two species of bats, while in Western Australia 1080 is produced naturally by many native plants and (as a result of natural selection) the region’s native mammals are immune to it.

No-one would say that 1080 isn’t nasty stuff; we know that it is. Poisons are. We know it’s dangerous to non-pest animals, especially mammals, and those involved in 1080 drops work to minimise that danger (which also needs to be put in perspective). For example, baits have been changed (from carrot, to hard cereal baits); accuracy of drops has increased significantly with the advent of GPS; and application rates have dropped substantially of the 30 or so years of our use of 1080.

The scientists and conservation workers that I know look forward to the time when reliable, equally-effective alternatives become available – but that time is still, realistically, years away and frankly, our native ecosystems can’t wait that long. We definitely need to keep talking about this issue, and we need to improve the way we do that. The grandstanding and the untruths don’t help anything, least of all the living taonga we all want to protect.


85 Responses to “Science & 1080”

  • My argument is this: There is an estimated $9b in potential funding for PredatorFreeNZ at stake over the next 32 yrs (Citation: https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/news-events-and-notices/news/news-2015/03/putting-a-price-on-a-predator-free-new-zealand.html). It would be naive to think that science is free from bias due to funding opportunities. Note that bias is not the same as corruption or conspiracy. In this case, bias is causing scientists and their employing institutions (who stand to get the lion’s share of the funding) to talk up the benefits and play down the risks of 1080 use. This is particularly so for proposed 1080 drops in the Hunua Ranges, near to a major public drinking water supply. A recent official N.Z. govt. document (https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/guidelines-issuing-permission-for-using-vertebrate-toxic-agents-march13.doc) states that:

    “There are limited data on the effects of 1080 on humans, therefore, most information relates to studies on other mammals”
    “1080 is a reproductive toxin and is teratogenic. However, as there are no known studies of these effects in humans, data are extrapolated from animal studies.”

    This is important because studies on short-lived animals cannot be used to investigate possible long-term health effects on humans, such as, for hypothetical example, increased risk of cancer down the track from exposure to small amounts of 1080 (in this connection, it is not even clear if such long-term studies have been carried out on regular tea drinkers, tea apparently naturally containing 1080). Therefore, the proposed Hunua 1080 drop cannot be claimed to be “perfectly safe”! Apparently, 1080 breaks down “quickly” in water, but into what products, and how does the rate of breakdown depend on environmental conditions like temperature? Apparently, it can take weeks to break down. It seems possible that active 1080 could be washed into the Hunua reservoir from the surrounding area every time it rains, not all in one go.

    There is certainly some risk. Ignorance of all the relevant facts on 1080 effects on humans poses the biggest risk of all! The risks must be weighed against the benefits. In the case of Hunua, nothing is going to go extinct due to predation if no 1080 is dropped. So, effectively, public health is being put at risk just to get more native birds in the Hunuas! This risk is, I suggest, not worth taking. The present day effects of introduced predators on the NZ biota is being talked up by those who stand to directly of indirectly benefit from the potential $9b in funding. I’m not necessarily arguing against 1080 use in general, I am simply arguing that for the proposed Hunua 1080 drop to be given the go-ahead would require a massive double standard in health and safety regulation, as a result of science biased by funding opportunities and pressures. It would make a mockery of all those h & s regulations restricting where various toxic chemicals can or can’t be stored and/or used.

  • In this case, bias is causing scientists and their employing institutions (who stand to get the lion’s share of the funding) to talk up the benefits and play down the risks of 1080 use.
    I think you need to provide evidence of this. All the scientists I know would LOVE to see the back of 1080, but at present, for much of the conservation estate, we don’t really have alternatives.

    “1080 is a reproductive toxin and is teratogenic. However, as there are no known studies of these effects in humans, data are extrapolated from animal studies.” Which is where the maximum allowable concentration in water comes in: 2ppb. NIWA has conducted more than 3000 tests on water flowing from catchments in which 1080’s been dropped. Only one town supply catchment’s ever had any detected, and that at well below the 2ppb limit.
    One of my previous posts has the actual data about teratogenicity in it.

    In the case of Hunua, nothing is going to go extinct due to predation if no 1080 is dropped. Not exactly. We can pretty much guarantee that species will go locally extinct: kōkāko, for example. And that the forests will continue to suffer from damage by possums.

    I strongly recommend this excellent post by Hayden Donnell (https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/18-09-2018/separating-fact-from-fiction-in-the-1080-debate/) & also following some of the links to reviews of the data that I’ve provided in this post.

    It would make a mockery of all those h & s regulations restricting where various toxic chemicals can or can’t be stored and/or used. I can’t help but view this as a false analogy, akin to those who claim that HFSA shouldn’t be used as a fluoridation chemical because it’s highly toxic in its concentrated form, ignoring the fact of rapid & high-magnitude dilution once it’s added to the water supply.

  • >I think you need to provide evidence of this. All the scientists I know would LOVE to see the back of 1080, but at present, for much of the conservation estate, we don’t really have alternatives<

    This response is a non sequitur. I agree that many, even all, scientists would indeed love to see the back of 1080, but at present, we don't really have alternatives IF WE WANT TO GO AHEAD WITH PREDATORFREENZ [CAPS used for emphasis only, not shouting] and all the funding opportunities that it brings! I'm not suggesting that scientists are somehow biased in favour of using 1080 per se, but rather that they are biased in favour of whatever is necessary to keep PredatorFreeNZ on the road.

    I have already provided some evidence that the risks are being downplayed, by way of the govt. document I quoted which states that we don't actually know very much about the effects on human health of 1080.

    As for evidence that the benefits are being talked up, that's complicated. DoC has been in somewhat of a funding crisis for many years now, and PredatorFreeNZ is their way out of that crisis (incidentally, I recall about maybe 15yrs ago someone who works for DoC saying "there's enough money for us all to keep our jobs, just not enough for us to actually do anything!"). DoC has been lobbying hard for PredatorFreeNZ for some years now, in part by actively encouraging the exaggeration of its threatened species lists, which are now full of inappropriate species in inappropriate categories, making the situation look a whole lot worse than it actually is. I have expert knowledge of some of the species on the lists, and so know why they shouldn't be where they are on the list (or even on the list at all!), but, of course, what I say can easily be shouted down by a chorus of biased scientists all singing the same tune in order to protect the funding.

  • >Which is where the maximum allowable concentration in water comes in: 2ppb.<
    The way I see it, the maximum allowable concentration in water cannot be set in any robust manner without sufficient knowledge of the short and long term effects of 1080 on humans. I read the document I linked to as saying basically something like "these are the recommended guidelines based on what we know" BUT [big qualifier] "we don't actually know that much, and what we do think we know is based largely on extrapolation from studies on animals".

  • >Not exactly. We can pretty much guarantee that species will go locally extinct: kōkāko, for example. And that the forests will continue to suffer from damage by possums<

    Local extinction is another issue. It happens all the time, mainly due to habitat loss/modification. So yes, the worst case scenario in the Hunuas is that kokako might go locally extinct and yes, the forests will continue to suffer from damage by possums, but is that a big enough problem to justify putting public health at risk by dumping loads of a toxic pesticide anywhere near to a major public drinking water supply? No, I suggest!

  • >I can’t help but view this as a false analogy, akin to those who claim that HFSA shouldn’t be used as a fluoridation chemical because it’s highly toxic in its concentrated form, ignoring the fact of rapid & high-magnitude dilution once it’s added to the water supply<

    Sounds like you were scratching for a response there! I'm saying that we don't have robust data on the long term effects to human health of even very low concentrations of 1080. I also note that it seems unclear what exactly it breaks down into in water, and how the rate of breakdown depends on environmental conditions like temperature. There is always at least a risk of accident and/or unforeseen circumstances with toxic substances, and that risk simply isn't worth taking, I suggest, with 2/3 of Auckland's drinking water supply, just to get "more birds"!

  • its threatened species lists, which are now full of inappropriate species in inappropriate categories
    Could you expand on that?

  • In terms of fluoroacetate getting into water: http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/PageFiles/7105/4066_Easonetal_s13395.pdf
    This was done using 6-16kg/ha of baits – these days they’re down to 2/kg/ha.

    According to Jan Wright’s 2011 report, one of the breakdown products is fluoride, with concentrations “within the range of natural levels of fluoride in NZ waterways”. She also notes that “more than 70% of 1080 in water is broken down within one day” (although yes, I agree that this can be slower at lower temperatures).

  • Charlie Eason has obvious very close ties with Landcare Research (one of the main beneficiaries of the funding), so we can’t have confidence that he will be unbiased. It is just too “incestuous”. We need scientific studies by impartial independent scientists (probably requiring overseas scientists with no connection to the funding at stake).

    One of the breakdown products may well be fluoride, but what are the others?

    I will expand as requested (above) shortly…

  • Bigger Sigh! Anything cherry picked, commissioned or conducted by DoC or other partner institutions of the PredatorFreeNZ consortium (including the govt.) cannot seriously be considered to be independent!

  • Oh please, Stephen, can you stop? We have a big challenge ahead of us, and if you guys (the anti-1080 people) could trap pests instead of spending your time flooding social media for a lost cause, that’d be more useful. Thanks.

  • Something more substantial than continued conspiracy theories would be useful Stephen.

    Regards

  • Hi Stephen – all your concerns are actually addressed at population level. If 1080 was as persistently toxic as you suggest it may be, we would see widespread populaiton level health outcomes with specific concentrations in areas of high application rates eg the west coast.

    We don’t.

    This confirms the consistently confirmed science regarding the product – it doesn’t bio-accumulate, it breaks down rapidly in water and reasonably rapidly in soils, sub-lethal doses are readily excreted, and, most importantly, the amount of 1080 required to render the drinking supply unusable is so extreme it probably doesn’t currently exist in the country.

    The “we don’t know for sure, further research is needed” is a similar line to that used by the anti-vaxx and wider anti-science zietgiest. The reality of data at population levels completely negates your real but irrational concerns.

  • Follow up – don’t even bother Stephen – heres the math.

    LD50 level for humans 2mg/kg

    Average human water consumption daily is around 3 litres from all sources. Estimate 1 litre from drinking water.

    Average human body mass say 70kg

    So, to reach LD50 the average human is Auckland has to consume 140mg of 1080.

    To get this from the drinking water supply, they have to drink a litre of water containing 140mg of 1080. For this to happen, the entire Hunua water supply has t reach this concentration level ie 140mg of 1080 per litre.

    Hunua dams – capacity around 80Gl (80,000,000,000 litres). That requires an heroic amount of 1080. 11,200 tonnes in fact. 1080 represents 0.15% of the bait by weight. So, to effectively poison Auckland via the water in the Hunua dams you need to drop around 10 million tonnes of cereal baits directly into the five dams.

    Good luck with that. We’ll die of air pollution from the aircraft required first.

  • @Ashton

    You are missing the crucial point that the LD50 (=the amount of an ingested substance that kills 50 percent of a test sample) is irrelevant! There are plenty of health issues which don’t result in death! Also, some health issues which do end in death do so after a long time (e.g. cancer) and long-term studies have not been conducted in the case of 1080. People who do get cancer, for example, down the track, typically cannot link it to an exact cause in their history.

    Also, to comment posters above, I am not ant-1080 (in general, just in the case of the Hunua drop), and I have already clearly stated that there is no corruption or conspiracy involved, just simple bias as a result of an estimated $9b in potential funding.

  • Thanks for the calculations, Ashton – much appreciated.

    Stephen, you said Anything cherry picked, commissioned or conducted by DoC or other partner institutions of the PredatorFreeNZ consortium (including the govt.) cannot seriously be considered to be independent!
    This is also a very similar line to that used by anti-vaxx, anti-fluoride, and pretty much any other anti-science group I’ve come across.

  • You miss the point Stephen – there is no way in the real world that you would reach any level of 1080 in the water supply that would be able to produce ANY demonstrable effect.

    Again, you refence in a glancing fashion cancer etc etc which may be theoretical possiblities of poisoning, but have never been found in practise. Ever. After 70 years of use – thats enough time to even identify intergenerational issues.

    I reitterate – if there as a risk, it should be visible at a population level – there are specific areas of NZ that have substatially higher exposure to 1080 than others, the West Coast being the leading example. We DO have the health information, and if what you claim was correct, we’d see a spike, even if we didn’t know immediately what the cause was.

  • @alison

    For some strange reason, you seem to have missed my point that Ashton’s calculations relate only to death in the short term from 1080 poisoning, not to health problems which don’t result in death, or to long term lethal effects (which have not been studies).

    It is very wrong of you to try to discredit my argument by forcing it into the same hole as failed “lunatic-fringe” arguments regarding other issues. In the case of fluoride, for example, nobody stood to gain $9b one way or the other! You are naive if you thank that $9b doesn’t buy a fair bit of bias!

  • No Stephen – its very wrong of you to discredit a particular source of research without substantiating your claim as to why. You have failed to provide anything that confirms your hypothesis that all government or government – related research is unconciously biased by the available funding.

    You may have a personal suspicion, but you don’t have any proof.

    And contrary to your claims, the non-lethal effects of 1080 have been studied – thats how we know it is metabolised and excreted and that it does not bio-accumulate. We even know the rate this occurs at. For any reasonable sub-lethal amount ie an amount you might reasonably ingest as a normal member of the public, 1080 is a non-issue. For unusually large sublethal amounts, yes there is damage to organs and that damage is cumulative, but to be exposed to those levels would take a serious amount of personal effort or reckless indifference, which is why it is a vanishingly small reality.

  • @Ashton You continue to misrepresent my argument. My argument is that with $9b of funding at stake, we cannot be confident that any of the potential beneficiaries of that money are unbiased. I am not trying to prove that they are biased, I don’t need to. I am not suggesting that they are corrupt or that there is a conspiracy, just simple bias causing them to talk up the benefits and play down the risks of 1080 (particularly in relation to the Hunua drop). So, I have substantiated my claim as to why we cannot be confident that any of the potential beneficiaries of the $9b are unbiased! It is because they stand to gain $9b! That’s all I need to quite reasonably require evidence from an independent authority.

    Your other comment contradicts something that I have already pointed to:

    A recent official N.Z. govt. document (https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/guidelines-issuing-permission-for-using-vertebrate-toxic-agents-march13.doc) states that:

    “There are limited data on the effects of 1080 on humans, therefore, most information relates to studies on other mammals”
    “1080 is a reproductive toxin and is teratogenic. However, as there are no known studies of these effects in humans, data are extrapolated from animal studies.”

    This places a huge qualifier on any health & safety guidelines for 1080. Again, long term health effects cannot be investigated by way of studies on short lived animal proxies.

  • You are naive if you thank that $9b doesn’t buy a fair bit of bias!

    You made the claim; you provide the proof. Produce evidence that any given report is biased in its rationale, methodology, & conclusions.

  • any of the potential beneficiaries of the $9b are unbiased!
    The information on which the PCE’s report is based was generated well before that $9b was a twinkle in anyone’s eye, as was the report itself. Are you claiming that this, too, is biased?

  • The PCE report may have been done before PredatorFreeNZ was announced PUBLICLY, but that doesn’t mean that PCE didn’t know about it! So, yes, I am also claiming that the PCE report cannot confidently be considered to be unbiased.

  • Also, the PCE report does not directly address the Hunua scenario (major public drinking water supply) and only makes vague and inconclusive references to the risks of water contamination.

  • I don’t need to prove that anything is biased, the onus is on you to prove that it is unbiased, given that $9b in potential funding poses a source of obvious bias to anyone who stands to benefit from the funding (or their employing institution).

  • Really? The PCE report came out in 2011. PredatorFreeNZ was announced in 2017. Are you seriously claiming that Jan Wright knew, in 2011, that this was going to be an actual thing with a $9b budget? If you are, then the onus really is on you to demonstrate evidence of bias.

  • I don’t need to prove that anything is biased, the onus is on you to prove that it is unbiased, Sorry, Stephen, that’s not how it works. The onus of proof lies with the person making the claim. That’s you, quite a way up the thread.

  • LMAO! You overlook the fact that I was hosted by the ecology group at UoA, which includes James Russell, from 2008 to 2017, and I can tell you for sure that there were discussions about PredatorFreeNZ starting many years before 2017! The exact figure of $9b may or may not have been estimated well before 2017, but as a general strategy for seecuring massive ongoing funding, PredatorFreeNZ has been building up over many years. You don’t seriously suggest that a $9b project gets planned ex nihilo overnight, without many years of planning?

  • makes vague and inconclusive references to the risks of water contamination
    Page 45: “From September 1990 to February 2011, 2,537 water samples have been tested [111], with traces of 1080 found in 86 of the samples. None of these 86 samples had been taken from a drinking water supply. Concentrations of 1080 in the 86 samples ranged fronm 0.1 to 9ppb, with only six of these at or above the MoH trigger value of 2ppb. None of the six had been taken from human or stock drinking water supplies.”

    Page 51: “With current management practices, the risk of people becoming sick from drinking water or eating food containing 1080 is very small. ..”

  • “With current management practices, the risk of people becoming sick from drinking water or eating food containing 1080 is very small. ..”

    I call this vague and inconclusive, don’t you? It isn’t even supported by evidence, just a vague assertion that all is well! This is a textbook example of how NOT to manage risks!

  • Your first quote is a lame duck too! It doesn’t relate to the specific circumstances of large 1080 drops in the vicinity of major public drinking water supplies, and it doesn’t suggest that a wide range of environmental conditions/variables have been tested. It is just an example of cherry picking! If a private company with no links to govt. tried to get away with this sort of thing as “evidence” for a proposed dump of toxic pesticide near 2/3 of Auckland’s drinking water supply, they wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of approval!

  • “It isn’t even supported by evidence, just a vague assertion that all is well! This is a textbook example of how NOT to manage risks!”

    To restate the glaringly obvious, its supported by 70 years of evidence. Your inabilty to accept the evidence doesn’t negate this.

  • Where is the 70 yrs of evidence, and how does it relate to the specifics of the Hunua scenario? How do we know that there have been no long term health problems due to 1080 over the past 70 yrs, in the absence of studies (except for limited studies on animals)? How do we know that people didn’t get sick due to exposure to 1080? Evidence falls well short of proof, but the strength of the evidence needs to be much higher than it is in order to risk a major public drinking water supply! I’m not saying that people will get sick if the Hunua 1080 drop goes ahead, I’m saying that it is one hell of a risk to take on the back of what would under ordinary circumstances be regarded as very inconclusive evidence, but the prospect of $9b in funding appears to be clouding people’s judgement on this issue!

  • Hi Stephen – The EPA classification document is worth a read. I’m sure it won’t address all your concerns, but the approach appears robust, and it identifies studies and research in relevant areas, or the lack thereof. Where it identifies a lack, it gives a reasoned response as ot why this is not a fatal lack. Again, you may disagree, but at least the disclosure and approach is visible.

    https://www.epa.govt.nz/assets/FileAPI/hsno-ar/HRE05002/HRE05002-055.pdf

  • @Carol Stewart

    The website you point to is a classic example of bias. It is put up by the pro-1080 lobby, cherry picking studies which support its agenda (again this is not a conspiracy theory, just an example of bias in action). The specific report linked is a 2009 report by Landcare Research (one of the main parties in the PredatorFreeNZ consortium, and therefore one of the main beneficiaries of the funding). I suggest that PredatorFreeNZ was already in the planning stage by 2009, at least in broad priciple, even if the details had yet to be ironed out. One is therefore fully justified in disregarding that report as potentially biased and requiring instead studies done by scientists with no connection to institutions with a vested interest in PredatorFreeNZ. In other words, just find me something that says that 1080 is perfectly safe, even in the long term, that isn’t commissioned, conducted or cherry picked by anyone involved in the PredatorFreeNZ funding umbrella.

  • @Ashton Dempsey

    A few years ago, I assisted the then Dean of Science at UoA to highlight a substandard application for release of dung beetles into NZ which was accepted by the EPA without anything remotely resembling a proper risk assessment! The applicant answered the question of any potential health risks to animals or humans by saying “the beetles just eat herbivore dung, so there are no risks pose to the health of humans or animals”, and the EPA accepted that! Funding was a factor in this example also, but much less than $9b. So, I’m not particularly interested in what EPA has to say. I do note that, in the document they linked to:
    “Nevertheless, the Agency is not aware of good information relating to human doses that established lowest toxic doses, and by implication doses below that that are likely to be non-toxic”
    Eh? Is it just me, or does that make no sense??

    “Conclusion
    The Agency concludes that the above human data support the view that with respect to acute toxicity of 1080, effects on humans are similar to effects on other terrestrial mammalian species. ”
    Wow, vague (“similar to”) and ignoring long term effects due to longer human life span compared with relevant mammals.

    “The Agency noted that the absence of specific 1080 antidotes is of significance for human risk assessment as poisoning with 1080 can occur accidentally. Nevertheless, symptomatic treatments (treatment of the patient with extensive intervention to address the toxic effects as they arise) have been found to be effects. ”
    More vagueness mixed with incomprehensible drivel!

  • Are you aware of ANY person in New Zealand suffering any ill effects following a non-lethal exposure to 1080? For instance, anyone involved in the importation, batching, compounding, distributing, loading or dropping of 1080 in either concentrated or bait formats?

    I can’t find any confirmed cases.

    There are two possible reasons for this – one is plausible, the other not so much. The plausible one is that, with correct cautious handling and use, the product presents either no real risk, or such a low risk that it is lost in the background statistical noise.

    The other is that a national conspiracy of medical practitioners, ACC, employers, contractors and others are successfully hiding anyone who might be affected.

    Which do you think it is?

  • Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. Furthermore, the ill effects may not be obviously linked to 1080 (e.g. hypothetically, cancer ten yrs later, or something like that). Most importantly, your argument fails to directly relate to large scale drops of 1080 near to major public drinking water supplies. These have presumably been few and far between in the past, so maybe we were just lucky that there were no ill effects in previous drops (but playing Russian roulette, it becomes rapidly unwise to try to repeat the good luck!), or maybe there were ill effects that have not been linked to the drops (due to lack of studies), possibly even deaths? We just don’t know with sufficient confidence to justify taking the risks. If it weren’t for the $9b at stake, I very much doubt if such drops would be given the green light. Taking these risks just to get “more birds” is not worth it!

  • Well, Stephen, people have been drinking black tea, which commonly contains fluoroacetate at higher concentrations than the Maximum Acceptable Value set in the DWSNZ, for centuries if not millenia. Adverse effects have had a LONG time to manifest. Yet there is no evidence that I’m aware of linking any sublethal effects to tea consumption. Here, for example, is an epidemiological investigation into tea and coffee consumption and risks of infertility (spoiler: no association). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29364517
    Do feel free to check out the medical literature for yourself.

    If you’d read that study I linked to instead of flouncing around being indignant, you might have realised its significance.

  • @Carol Stewart

    The tea example is bogus. There is mercury in fish, but nobody in their right mind is going to drop a load of mercury anywhere near a major public drinking water supply! I actually know at least one scientist who will not drink tea if the tea bag has been left in for more than 5 seconds! The study that you point to means very little, since it is just one study looking at one possible effect (unrelated to 1080) of tea drinking. Scientific studies can only ever suggest conclusions, based on simplifying assumptions in real world cases. This study is not directly relevant to the issue in hand. Besides, if 1080 breaks down in water, why is there any in tea? Surely it would break down very fast in hot water used for tea, but possibly much slower in cold Hunua reservoir water in early Spring. Drinking too much tea could well cause health issues related to 1080 content. The study on fertility doesn’t address that. So, again, you are doing what all the pro PredatorFreeNZ lobby are doing and cherry picking studies to suit your argument and also elevating the status of scientific studies far beyond what they actually show. It boils down to this: we don’t really know the risks of the Hunua 1080 drop, but indications are that the risks are low. Is this good enough to take the risk with public health. No, I suggest, but it is easy to evaluate the risks differently if one stands to gain a share in $9b funding! This is called bias. I make no money out of this either way.

  • Hi Stephen

    “Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. Furthermore, the ill effects may not be obviously linked to 1080 (e.g. hypothetically, cancer ten yrs later, or something like that). ”

    Again, we have 70 years of use of which many many of those years were at much higher rates with much lower safety standards. If 1080 were to present a significant risk we would expect to see spikes in particular health statistics for affected groups – most likely those directly working with the material. Methyl bromide provides a template for these types of findings, as does asbestos.

    At the risk of being boring, I repeat – no such spike has even been identified and / or hypothesised. Without the link being suggested, it stands to reason it hasn’t been researched – you can’t research a non-existant hypothesis , which is really just a restatement of your very correct opening line.

  • Yet again, I must point out that your unsupported claim stands in direct contradiction with an official document from our own govt. on the issue, i.e.

    https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/guidelines-issuing-permission-for-using-vertebrate-toxic-agents-march13.doc

    “There are limited data on the effects of 1080 on humans, therefore, most information relates to studies on other mammals”
    “1080 is a reproductive toxin and is teratogenic. However, as there are no known studies of these effects in humans, data are extrapolated from animal studies.”

  • “Without the link being suggested, it stands to reason it hasn’t been researched – you can’t research a non-existant hypothesis”

    Makes no sense, pal! There is no such thing as a “non-existant[sic] hypothesis”. Sure if nobody proposes a hypothesis, then it doesn’t get researched or tested, but that is just absence of evidence, not evidence of absence!

  • We stand in opposition ot each others approach then Stephen. You want to investigate something for which there is no indication of actual harm, I’m happy to accept that the current knowns suggest that there is little to no likelihood of a population level health issue arising from current practises.

    We may well both die of old age before finding out who buys whom a beer.

  • Another misrepresentation of the situation!

    “I’m happy to accept that the current knowns suggest that there is little to no likelihood of a population level health issue arising from current practises”
    The whole point is that “current knowns” are based on few studies (mostly on animals), so you are effectively arguing from absence of evidence to evidence of absence!

    “You want to investigate something for which there is no indication of actual harm …”
    Yes, I do, before taking such a big risk as the Hunua 1080 drop. It is called “making sure”, or “being cautious”. It is standard practice (except, it seems, when $9b is at stake!)

  • P.S.: Standard practice, for example, when applying to the EPA for the release of a new organism for biocontrol, is to actively investigate the possible risks, not just to say “there is no suggestion of any risks, so all will be well!”

  • Given that you can’t directly research effects of 1080 on humans for obvious ethical reasons, and that the general population currently has no known exposure to 1080, what research do you envisage that might address your concerns?

    See, that was why the study on tea consumption was relevant, because it’s an example of a population being exposed to the same active substance that is present in 1080 over long time periods. I wasn’t implying that the study on its own is a slam dunk, but neither is it irrelevant.

  • Well that’s just cringeworthy nonsense! If you can (as they want to) expose 2/3 of Auckland to 1080 in their drinking water, then why can’t you, for “obvious ethical reasons”, research the effects of similar concentrations of 1080 on a test group of humans??? Why is it OK to expose a huge group of the population to 1080, but not a small group in a study??? So, you are suggesting the absurdity that a research study would not be approved, for “obvious ethical reasons”, doing exactly the same thing to much fewer people than the proposed Hunua 1080 drop (which is in danger of being approved)!!! Drivel …

  • Now you’re just getting abusive in addition to being obtuse and tedious, so it’s time to disengage. Good luck with your pet theory.

  • If you can (as they want to) expose 2/3 of Auckland to 1080 in their drinking water, then why can’t you, for “obvious ethical reasons”, research the effects of similar concentrations of 1080 on a test group of humans??? Why is it OK to expose a huge group of the population to 1080, but not a small group in a study???
    This is a very good example of my original thesis: that those opposed to 1080 tend to use the same approaches & rhetoric as those opposed to eg vaccination.

  • Not abusive, just my frank evaluation of your absurd argument! I didn’t say anything about you, just about what you said. Can’t you see how absurd what you said really is?

  • Not so fast @alison ! Please explain how Carol Stewart’s comment makes any sense whatsoever! She claimed that there are “obvious ethical reasons” preventing research on people involving doing exactly the same thing as the proposed Hunua 1080 drop (i.e. exposing them to low concentrations of 1080 in their drinking water), but to much fewer people! How does that make any sense?

  • I was trying to get back to the point after you deflected! I challenge you to answer my question. My mind is open to being wrong. I’m perfectly happy to consider anything, provided only that it makes some rational sense.

  • It make sense because there is no known mechanism for exposure to undetectable levels of sodium fluoroacetate or its breakdown components to produce a personal harm.

    In the Hunuas there is about 200km2 of land (20,000ha). At the recommended rate of spread at 2kg/hectare, the entire area would get a total 1080 load of 60kg. Worst case then, if the entire 1080 load made its way into the dams on the same day without any breakdown whatsoever, there would be 60,000,000mg of 1080 in 80,000,000,000 litres of water. That’s 0.00075mg per litre. 0.75 of a millionth of a gram, per litre. That’s an order of magnitude less than the recommended safe level.

    If and only if all of the load makes it to the water on the same day. And that there is no decay of the 1080 in the dam. And not allowing for any further dilution as the inflows of clean water continue, or a thousand other variables that ALL lower the possible concentration of 1080 coming out of my tap and into my glass.

    And so we are back to your last sentence, “I’m perfectly happy to consider anything, provided only that it makes some rational sense.”

    Its not rational to think this series of events would happen, and its not rational to think that any rational level of 1080 making it to the dams would present any real risk to any population. The known decay profile of the product absolutely ensures this – we know how long it takes under a range of conditions, what the components of the breakdown are. and what the inert final components are.

    None of this precludes further investigation and certainly, there should be reliable testing during the drops to ensure the water is within the recommended safe limits at all times.

    To save you the effort of requiring it, I’ll dance on the head of your pin – none of what I have set out absolutely proves that 1080 is “perfectly safe”, the implied challenge in your original post. I am prepared to state and accept it is “safe enough” including a significant margin for error.

  • I want to comment on the statements made about the high quality research supporting the use of aerial 1080. Yes, there are a lot of studies out there but how many of them comply with international best practice? If you look at the OECD suite of chemical safety tests (seen by the international community as the industry standard), not one of these has been fully completed for 1080 – confirmed in the ERMA Assessment of 1080 (2007, p. 310).
    What do these tests cover and how relevant are they to the New Zealand situation? They cover tests over 3 generations of animals such as rats for effects on: reproduction; development; physiology; behaviour; nervous, endocrine and immune systems in the exposed animal as well as considering effects on their offspring including any physiological defects at birth, developmental and behavioural changes, and reproductive outcomes. These tests are relevant for every species exposed to 1080 both non-target wild species and human beings. Even the specific OECD Test Guideline for avian reproduction, TG 206, in force since 1984, has not been completed (ERMA, 2007, p. 400). This test covers mortality of exposed adults, egg production, cracked eggs, egg shell thickness, viability, hatchability and effects on chicks (OECD, 1984). Surely these gaps would be sufficient to call into question the claim that adequate research (of the required standard!) has been completed to give us confidence that the unintended consequences of widespread use of this super toxin will not be significant.

    I note the reassurance given that even though 1080 is dropped in water supplies, there could be no adverse consequences because testing has never exceeded 2ppb. This is a threshold appropriate from a toxicological perspective, where ‘the dose makes the poison’ and it has an inherent assumption that any exposure lower will be safe. It ignores the large body of endocrine disruptor research which establishes the harm of environmental contaminants at concentrations expressed in parts per trillion and quadrillion ( the potential for 1080 to be an endocrine disruptor was not included in the ERMA review but others consider any fluorine compound as likely to be one, particularly for its effect on the thyroid gland). Effects are generally most profound on offspring of exposed parents, so impacts are not likely to show up for a generation, but they include sexual identity changes and reproductive impacts, increased allergies, learning and anxiety issues among others. I think we owe it to the next generation to insist the OECD research standards are met. Such a stance is completely in line with the HSNO Act which governs 1080 use as well.

    • Regarding the effect of fluoride on the thyroid:
      Abstract
      Concerns exist regarding potential harms of community water fluoridation. The study objective was to examine the association between fluoride exposure and indicators of two health outcomes for which concerns have been expressed, cognitive and thyroid functioning, among a population-based sample of Canadians. Data were analyzed from Cycles 2 and 3 of the Canadian Health Measures Survey. Logistic regression and multinomial logistic regression were used to examine associations between fluoride exposure (from urine and tap water) and indicators of cognitive and thyroid functioning, adjusting for covariates. There was no evidence of any relationship between fluoride exposure and thyroid functioning. Higher urinary fluoride was associated with having some cognitive problems (versus none), but this finding disappeared when the sample was constrained to those for whom we could discern fluoride exposure from drinking water. Future research should continue to utilize this high quality data source to explore other potential harms. Source: https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/11023/3428

  • Nice try (tho why exactly u are trying so hard to argue against me is a good question … vested interest??)

    >The known decay profile of the product absolutely ensures this – we know how long it takes under a range of conditions ..I am prepared to state and accept it is “safe enough” <

    That's really the whole point, i.e. it comes down to a judgment call, one that is easily biased by a potential $9b in funding!

  • Oops, the symbols I used for the quotes have mucked up my post!

    “The known decay profile of the product absolutely ensures this – we know how long it takes under a range of conditions”

    Really, where is the data? Please show me where those lobbying for 1080 use have cited that data!

    “I am prepared to state and accept it is “safe enough” ”

    That’s really the whole point, i.e. it comes down to a judgment call, one that is easily biased by a potential $9b in funding!

  • In the absence of studies on the long term health effects of 1080 on human subjects, we don’t know if the guideline levels are safe or not. There could be heath effects down the track. These may be difficult or impossible to link back to cause (1080) on a case by case basis, but instead require statistical analysis of a large enough group of subjects over a long enough period of time, in order to check against a control group for increased rates of cancer, lowered fertility levels, etc. If there are “obvious ethical reasons” why this research cannot be done, then those same reasons, magnified, mean that the Hunua drop cannot go ahead!

  • I”ll repeat Ashton’s earlier comment: Again, we have 70 years of use of which many many of those years were at much higher rates with much lower safety standards. If 1080 were to present a significant risk we would expect to see spikes in particular health statistics for affected groups – most likely those directly working with the material. Methyl bromide provides a template for these types of findings, as does asbestos.

    The epidemological data (cancer etc) are readily available via the MoH & Statistics NZ.

  • Nah, statistically significant effects don’t have to be in the form of obvious “spikes” (or else much of statistics would be redundant). Instead, effects need to be carefully searched for in data and distentagled from many different confounding effects and noise. All this is pretty obvious to anyone with an unbiased perspective! There is no evidence I know of that the pro 1080 lobby have considered any of this.

  • Having read about the damage that small amounts of aflatoxins can do to a human over a period of time, I can appreciate Stephen Thorpe’s concerns about tiny amounts of ACTIVE 1080 on humans over a sustained period, I was wondering if Stephen Thorpe could nominate a well-regarded overseas research institute that could perform the necessary independent studies that would allay his concerns about the use of 1080? And would funds be made available to fund this from the $9B he alludes to?
    What would be worthwhile for all concerned would be ongoing research outputs to be published on a regular basis that could eventually eliminate the 1080 route. Financial prizes for the successful institution would be a great incentive. I have only become more aeriously interested in this topic after hearing reports of owls dying after eating mice/rats which had been poisoned by 1080. I admire the drive to save our fauna and flora and the efforts to find the safest and most effective solution to this goal.

  • @Brian Casey

    Please note that I am not necessarily against 1080 use in general, just in the special case of the Hunuas, where 2/3 of Auckland gets its drinking water from. Even then, my objection is simply that normal standards of health & safety are being compromised by bias from the prospect of an estimated $9b in PredatorFreeNZ funding over the next 32 years, and that scientists are talking up the benefits (misrepresenting the science) and playing down the risks (also misrepresenting the science) . If studies into health effects of 1080 on humans were funded by PredatorFreeNZ (i.e. the potential $9b), as you suggest, then the studies could not be considered to be independent, as the funder would have an obvious “preferred outcome” (i.e. no significant health risks). So, funding any such studies does pose a problem! My objection to the Hunua 1080 drop is that it poses an unnecessary risk to public health. There is nothing in the Hunuas which faces (global) extinction if predator control isn’t undertaken. The only benefits from the drop would be “more birds” and a healthier forest ecosystem, which would be nice, but not, I suggest, at the cost of a risk to public health! However, the potential $9b of funding seems to be driving the ship.

  • Hi Stephen,

    Your many comments here indicate you’re not familiar with the science involved. No offence intended, it just help to be open about your background. (A quick search suggests that your expertise is as an “educator and group facilitator who specializes in group work in the online world”. Is this correct?)

    It seems you’ve read some claims somewhere that have you concerned. You’re very unlikely to resolve your concerns by badgering or being argumentative with people that might help you.

    Wouldn’t it have been better to (politely) say that you don’t understand the science involved, and (politely) say you’d like to learn?

    This topic isn’t one I usually cover, but a few quick pointers.

    First, let’s get rid of the $9b thing. It’s conflation (to be polite), introduces a straw-man, and—to my reading—suggests you haven’t read what you cite.*

    The $9d is an estimate for executing eradication using current approaches, not research funding. No science money in that figure.

    Furthermore, when you do look at the science aspect of what they write it’s wasn’t about 1080. What they offers as a forward-looking (i.e. research) statement is that “mechanical single-capture traps and broad-spectrum anticoagulant poisons” … “should be phased out and replaced with new technologies”, then they list examples. Their future science aspect is dominantly for other approaches.

    You’ve also set up a straw-man of scientists ‘confirming‘ a pre-held view rather than testing things (what science does), and leave out that over-turning existing thought is a ‘win’.

    Anyway, back to basics:

    Yes, 1080 is toxic, it’s why it was chosen, to kill the pest species.

    Fair enough to think about toxicity—of course—but you cannot discuss toxicity without discussing dosage. Very rare exceptions aside there are always smallest dosages that have no adverse effect. This is biology we’re talking about!

    Broadly speaking, there are two types of toxicity people focus on: acute (single dose) or chronic (over a long period of time).

    The dosage levels Ashton has pointed out are incredibly small. The ‘acute’ dose here is too small to have any effect. (Perhaps try replacing 1080 with a range of toxins and re-run the numbers to get a feel for what it’s saying.)

    You can’t start to worry about ‘possible’ chronic effects unless there is a chronic, ongoing dose to consider. That’d require regular large-scale aerial drops, as in weekly or monthly, over a long time period. News reports seem to indicate it was 3 years since the last aerial drop.

    There are other aspects, as Ashton has noted. The ‘simple maths’ approach really only works if the entire drop was into the dam water itself. In the absence of that, you’ve got to remember breakdown rates, trapping in soil, simply sitting there in the pellets, what fraction gets consumed (it’s taken out of the frame as it’s retained in the animals) and so on. You have to include those, you really can’t look past them.

    What the breakdown products would be is moot if the dosage of the original compound is too low to have toxicity, so that’s a red herring. (It’d be asking for the breakdown products to be much more toxic that the original compound.) Furthermore, it’s very unlikely that the breakdown products in water aren’t well known as it’d be straight-forward chemistry: mix some 1080 in water, record what happens, run spectra, etc. I’d check the chemical registries.

    By the way, a quick glance suggests 1080 has been tested in larger mammals, in particular sheep. (Part of the thing being checked there is if the livestock would retain some of the poison, which would then become part of food produce.) I haven’t time to dig these out for you, sorry.**

    —————
    * I object to the authors calling the North Island part of the mainland 😀 I’m guessing the authors are North Islanders… *rolleyes*

    ** Unless someone pays me! 😀

  • Hi Grant, I was wondering when they would wheel you in on this issue! You have got just about everything here wrong, including the wrong Stephen Thorpe! I think you will find that the Stephen Thorpe who is an “educator and group facilitator who specializes in group work in the online world”, is someone who works at AUT, not me! I’m basically a contract entomologist who was hosted (2008-2017) by the UoA Ecology group which includes James Russell (who is the person who estimated the $9b, see https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/news-events-and-notices/news/news-2015/03/putting-a-price-on-a-predator-free-new-zealand.html).

    You say: “The $9d is an estimate for executing eradication using current approaches, not research funding. No science money in that figure.”

    I say: Well, it is unclear if that figure includes the costs of developing new methods for eradication, or doing research associated with the eradication to attempt to monitor effectiveness, etc. It is also unclear if that figure includes “overheads” for the institutions involved (so for example, for every eradication project planned and attempted, does PredatorFree2050 Ltd. and/or DoC claim back the costs as “overheads”?) However, let’s suppose that you are correct and the $9b figure only covers the actual costs of eradication. That simply means that more money is required to pay for developing new methods, doing associated research to monitor effectiveness, planning, governance, institutional overheads, etc., so the actual cost of the whole thing is likely to be considerably MORE than $9b, if you are correct, so I don’t see how that weakens my argument! I know for a fact that UoA, for example, is doing funded (from somewhere) research on current eradication projects (e.g. Herald Island: from an email “Araceli Samaniego from Auckland University is carrying out yearly predator surveys covering the whole island as there is very little known about predator control in the urban environment. So, in a sense this is an urban trial.”) This research would not be happening without PredatorFree2050, so the costs of the research add to the costs associated with the eradication.

    “The dosage levels Ashton has pointed out are incredibly small. The ‘acute’ dose here is too small to have any effect”
    My argument is that if we don’t know the effects of 1080 on humans very well (mostly extrapolated from studies on animals, etc.), then we don’t know that the ‘acute’ dose here is too small to have any effect, not with sufficient confidence! Very small doses could be having adverse health effects (not necessarily leading to death) that we haven’t noticed, due to lack of relevant studies (and they wouldn’t necessarily show up as obvious “spikes” as has been suggested above). You seem to be suggesting that the acute effects of exposure 1080 will manifest themselves pretty much immediately and in an obvious way. I don’t think that necessarily hold true. For example, I have heard it said (OK, I don’t know how true it is) that skin cancer later in life can be caused by a single event of sunburn in one’s youth. If so, that would be an example of a delayed acute effect.

    • I was wondering when they would wheel you in on this issue!
      How about a little less of the trying-to-wind-people-up approach? Nobody ‘wheels’ anyone in on my blog (apart from FFNZ, perhaps). Folks here comment as & when they choose. All I expect is a certain level of courtesy towards others, and innuendo like the above is pushing the limit a little.

  • @Alison Just my sense of humour!

    @Grant Also, regarding the science funding issue vs. cost of eradication, see: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2018/07/nz-s-impossible-predator-free-2050-goal-blasted-by-academics.html

    “The researchers said the Predator Free 2050 goal has raised questions about the relationship between scientists and policy-makers in New Zealand, with scientists afraid to publicly criticise the policy for fear of losing funding.

    “There is widespread scepticism of the policy within the industry, but it is generally expressed in whispers,” Dr Steer said.”

  • @Grant

    I might be convinced if the Department of Health were to explicity and unreservedly deem the Hunua 1080 drop to be completely free of any significant risks to public health, and to take responsibility/liability should something go wrong. However, I somehow doubt they would do that, under the circumstances!

  • I have only just noticed the comment posted above by Clare St Pierre. She obviously knows what she’s talking about. As I read her comment, she is basically providing the detail to my general point that the standards of evidence for safety that we would normally expect are not met in this case. My explanation for this is that the usual regulatory safeguards are being compromised because the amount of money involved is just too much for this massive project to be stopped by mere public health concerns!

  • Hi Stephen –

    I asked for a little courtesy, which you seem to have missed I think.

    Thanks for clarifying your background. Please note I asked that as a question, not a statement — there was no need to dress up your reply.

    Seeing as you (now) know there is a name clash, you might want to either make that clear when you write here (I’m pretty sure the other person of the same name also comments here). Perhaps you need to change the name you use write under to make it clearer — better ask with the admins as we try avoid people changing names midstream.

    I’m sorry, but you’re definitely wrong on what the $9b figure entails (and I sense you realise that). It’s pretty straight-forward. They gave estimates for smaller pest eradication programs, then scaled up to national areas, yielding the $9b. Just scaling up the eradication costs.

    You’ve shifted your “my argument is that” in your reply to me. In earlier comments, it was about the funding as a conflict of interest. I’d read from this shift that you accept that’s not a sound reason.

    You’ve now moved to “My argument is that if we don’t know the effects of 1080 on humans very well”. (It is a point you raised earlier, but it’s not what you earlier offered as “my argument is that”.)

    Let’s accept your first concern (the funding) is resolved, and move to the new goalpost you’ve set.

    You seem to want to use what I call “speculative what-ifs”. I see this in a few souls that oppose GMOs or similar. Thing is, you can throw up possible this and thats forever, even on things that are widely accepted as safe for thousands of years. They’re empty speculation unless you can back them.

    The safe acute dose is set at 2ppb based on data, not nothing! This has never been observed in drinking water supplies.

    Speculating on the basis of ‘no direct testing on humans’ avoids the work that has been done. Instead of berating others or repeating yourself, perhaps you could have politely asked about this?

    I’ve taken an ‘instant’ peek, and if you look you’ll find there is data from quite a wide range of animals (including a few humans who were presumably poisoned from high doses). I haven’t time to go into them, sorry as I have writing I want to attend to, but the point is there isn’t no data, and this stuff has been around for years.

    By it’s nature human toxicology is always extrapolation. Unless you want to set up a series with the end point being murdering your test subjects! I’m exaggerating, but you get my point right?

    (That’s not as bad as it might seem: set safety thresholds on the safe side.)

    re “You seem to be suggesting that the acute effects of exposure 1080 will manifest themselves pretty much immediately and in an obvious way.” — no, I never implied anything. (Also, and no offence, but the speculation on cancers is meaningless with dosage contexts, too.)

    The action of fluoroacetate as a toxin is known. (It acts as an analogue of acetate, interfering with the citric acid acid, ultimately blocking phosphofructokinase-1 and hence glycolysis, blocking energy metabolism. Unsurprisingly, it’s main effect is on tissues with high-metabolism rates.)

    Similarly, I read that it’s known that sub-lethal doses are apparently completely metabolised and excreted over a few days.

    It can have long-term effects: in high doses – seems to be in the more ordinary sense of damage that didn’t heal.

    Either way you have to start with dosage, you can’t ignore dosage as toxicity and dosage are interwound. As a biologist you must know this.

    Water breakdown has been measured, too. It has been tested by deliberately putting 1080 into water, then measuring amounts in the following hours. (None after 8 hours.)

    And so on, and so on. Rather than berate others and offer speculative thoughts, you’d do better to read the science that has been done but I get the impression you’d prefer to air speculative thoughts that resonate with your fears. That’s very human, and very common too unfortunately, but also not very helpful at sorting out what is and isn’t.

    On that note, I’d like to get back to my own writing. By the way, no-one (paraphrasing) ‘wheeled me in’.

  • @Grant, you strike me as many things, but clearly “dumb”, per se, so I cannot avoid therefore avoid the conclusion that you are deliberately trying to misrepresent my simple argument regarding the $9b. It is unclear, but, as I said, supposing that you are correct about the $9b being an estimate merely of the materials and labour of the actual eradication, all that means is that a whole lot more money is at stake for developing new methods, monitoring of effectiveness and safety, other associated research, governance, management, planning, and, of course, institutional “overheads” (which probably involves “total cost recovery”). So, although I may be incorrect on a technicality, it effectively strengthens my argument, because a whole lot MORE than $9b must be at stake!

    More to come on the health risk issue …

  • Before moving on to the health risk issue, I just want to be absolutely clear. You said: “You’ve shifted your “my argument is that” in your reply to me. In earlier comments, it was about the funding as a conflict of interest. I’d read from this shift that you accept that’s not a sound reason.”

    No I have not! It is still very much about funding as a COI. The only difference now is that we don’t have an estimate of how much funding is involved, not even a ballpark figure, but it is on top of the $9b, and it must be sufficient to at least solve DoCs funding crisis for the foreseeable future.

    PS: I actually meant to say clearly not dumb above, but my attept to insert the not got knotted!

  • @Ashton Don’t know what you mean, but apart from an unintended typo, I was merely pointing out that Grant’s reply only serves to strengthen my funding argument! Even more money is involved than a mere $9b!

  • OK, here we go (hang on tight folks!):

    “You seem to want to use what I call “speculative what-ifs”.”
    “What-ifs” are actually perfectly appropriate in the context of risk assessments (which is the context here, in relation to the Hunua 1080 drop). Obviously, the “what-ifs” shouldn’t be stretched beyond the limits of plausibility, but the general approach to managing risks is to err firmly on the side of caution (the prospect of billions of dollars appears to be working against that in this case).

    “They’re empty speculation unless you can back them”
    No, plausible “what-ifs” must be addressed as part of any risk assessment. The more that is potentially at stake (e.g. public health involving 2/3 of Auckland’s drinking water), the more that they need to be addressed.

    “The safe acute dose is set at 2ppb based on data, not nothing! This has never been observed in drinking water supplies.”
    I didn’t say that it was based on nothing! I didn’t say that it wasn’t based on data! The problem is that the data is inconclusive, in part because it is based mainly on extrapolation from studies on animals. As Clare St Pierre has nicely pointed out in a comment above, the standard of “proof” falls short of what we can reasonably require under the circumstances. As for even the supposedly “safe” acute dose never having been observed in drinking water supplies, that’s plausibly because there haven’t been many instances of large 1080 drops near to major public drinking water supplies! People have been cautious until now! There is a first time for everything, and the onus is on you to show that there have been sufficiently many instances relevantly similar to the Hunua drop to rule out the possibly contamination over the supposedly “safe” level, which we only think is “safe” on the basis of limited data, mostly extrapolated from studies on animals!

    “By it’s nature human toxicology is always extrapolation. Unless you want to set up a series with the end point being murdering your test subjects! I’m exaggerating, but you get my point right?”
    Wow! You now seem to be repeating the really dumb argument someone also suggested to me on Twitter, which (LMAO!) claims that research can’t be done directly on humans, for “obvious ethical reasons”, so let’s just go ahead and assume that it is safe! In other words, the safety tests are too risky, so let’s just go ahead without them!!!

    “Water breakdown has been measured, too. It has been tested by deliberately putting 1080 into water, then measuring amounts in the following hours. (None after 8 hours.)”
    Where has it been tested under the full range of environmental variables, like temperature? You figure of 8 hrs (which you don’t cite a source for) contradicts other sources that I have read (sources which still lobby for the use of 1010, not against it), which suggest that the figure is more like weeks.

    “The action of fluoroacetate as a toxin is known”
    Poorly known! Again, I repeat from a recent official NZ govt. document:
    https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/guidelines-issuing-permission-for-using-vertebrate-toxic-agents-march13.doc
    “There are limited data on the effects of 1080 on humans, therefore, most information relates to studies on other mammals”
    “1080 is a reproductive toxin and is teratogenic. However, as there are no known studies of these effects in humans, data are extrapolated from animal studies.”

    You are also covertly making many other simplifying assumptions. Effects on healthy adult humans may not be the same as for other people. A few people might be unlucky and be exposed to other sources of 1080, and the Hunua drop could tip the balance into dangerous levels for them (if the benefits from the Hunua drop were significant, then this argument might not carry much weight, but the only benefits are “more birds” and to help secure massive long term funding for some!) Furthermore, as I said, acute effects of low doses may not manifest themselves immediately or in an obvious way, so they have to be carefully looked for over a sufficiently long period of time, using statistical analysis because individual cases of illness may not be traceable to cause (cancer is just an example of that).

  • they have to be carefully looked for over a sufficiently long period of time, using statistical analysis because individual cases of illness may not be traceable to cause (cancer is just an example of that).
    So go ahead & do the research. The epidemiological data are available, after all.

    You may have noticed Claire’s comment; I suggest you also read the abstract that I posted in response.

  • What? It is not up to me to do the research! It is up to me to point out that the research needs to be done BEFORE the Hunua drop is given the go ahead.

  • As has been previously pointed out, the person who makes the initial claim is the one who needs to provide the evidence. In this comments thread, that would be you.

    This conversation has become extremely repetitive.

  • Hi Stephen

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_holes

    There is possibly one on the overuse of exclamation points as well. If not, there should be.

    On the substantive matter:

    “As for even the supposedly “safe” acute dose never having been observed in drinking water supplies, that’s plausibly because there haven’t been many instances of large 1080 drops near to major public drinking water supplies! People have been cautious until now! There is a first time for everything, and the onus is on you to show that there have been sufficiently many instances relevantly similar to the Hunua drop to rule out the possibly contamination over the supposedly “safe” level, which we only think is “safe” on the basis of limited data, mostly extrapolated from studies on animals!”

    Read my two posts above where the full working is given to show that exceeding (or indeed reaching) the safe level would be a practical impossiblity.

    I’m now out of this discussion on the basis that, if you haven’t bothered to read (or could not comprehend) those two simple posts, nothing more I add is going tomake any difference.

    Cheers

  • Tēnā koutou,
    Obviously this is an area that people feel very passionately about, but I think this comment thread has outlived its usefulness. While we encourage respectful debate, this thread has strayed too far into obtuse and unproductive arguments. I’m now shutting down the comments on this post.
    Sarah-Jane, Sciblogs Editor