Public responses on glyphosate weedkiller published

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has publicly released the 465 responses to its call for information on glyphosate herbicide.

The EPA called for information about glyphosate last year to take another look at the chemical, says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms.

It is commonly known as the active ingredient in Roundup, but 89 mixtures containing glyphosate are approved for use in New Zealand.

Members of the public contributed 48 per cent of all responses.  Professional users, such as councils, accounted for 42 per cent; 7 per cent of the responses were from organisations and 3 per cent from those involved in the supply chain. Continue reading

New fungicide to protect potatoes, tomatoes and onions

A new fungicide to combat late blight in tomatoes and potato crops, and downy mildew in onions, has been approved for use in New Zealand, subject to conditions.

Xivana contains the active ingredient fluoxapiprolin, which is new to New Zealand. Alongside the European Union and Australia, New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is among the first regulators worldwide to consider an approval for this substance.

The applicant, Bayer New Zealand Ltd, wants to import Xivana as a concentrate to be applied using ground-based or aerial methods. Bayer says the fungicide would always be manufactured overseas and arrive in New Zealand as a finished, packaged product ready for sale to professional users.

“Bayer says late blight is the most economically destructive disease of potatoes and outdoor tomato crops in this country. As well, Onions New Zealand told us new options for controlling downy mildew are desperately needed,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s hazardous substances group.

The EPA considers that the new active ingredient, fluoxapiprolin, represents a significant benefit, as it could provide an additional tool for growers that is less hazardous than most comparable fungicides currently available on the market.

“In granting approval for Xivana, strict rules have been set for its use. These include a maximum of three uses a year per crop, at a restricted amount. Use of Xivana is also restricted to professional users in commercial settings,” says Dr Hill.

The EPA is responsible for regulating chemicals and other dangerous goods and substances under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

“This means we make decisions on whether to approve new hazardous substances. We put rules (called controls) in place to manage the risks of hazardous substances and to safeguard people and the environment,” says Dr Hill.

Read more detail about the decision on Xivana

Source: Environmental Protection Authority

Some thoughts about Santa and updates from the EPA on agrichemicals

AgScience’s Christmas Eve roundup of science news led us to a seasonal item on the RNZ site, blending physics and  – dare we suggest it without causing offence or upset?  – belief systems.

The item was teasingly headed Santa:  How does he do it?

Our readers can  tune in to the the answer.

 Listen to Sci Fi / Sci Fact – Santa: How does he do it? duration25′ :16″

RNZ tells its audience: Continue reading

‘Residency’ edges closer for shortlist of new organisms

A tomato plant virus is among seven organisms in line for deregulation, having recently established themselves in New Zealand.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) sought feedback on which new organisms should no longer hold regulatory status as “new” because they are effectively resident here.  This deregulation process is conducted under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act, for species that arrived after 29 July 1998.

“We have carefully screened the shortlisted candidates, and no longer consider that they are new organisms because they’ve been present in Aotearoa for some time. This is not an assessment of whether or not we want them in the country, just a recognition of their presence here,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s New Organisms group.

“This process is about making it easier for scientists wanting to conduct research on these organisms, and removing the unnecessary financial barriers for businesses wanting to make use of them.” Continue reading

Deadline extended for input on kiwifruit spray ingredient

The deadline has been extended  for submissions on the potential phase-out of hydrogen cyanamide, an active ingredient in sprays commonly used by kiwifruit growers.

The original deadline of 26 November has been pushed out to 5pm on Monday 20 December.

Hydrogen cyanamide is banned in Europe, and its re-registration is currently under review in the United States.

In New Zealand, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is undertaking a reassessment of the substance, which is primarily sprayed on bare kiwifruit vines to help buds form after winter.

The latest evidence suggests the economic benefits of hydrogen cyanamide are outweighed by the environmental risks and adverse health effects to the reproductive system and thyroid. Continue reading

Extra month is added to EPA’s call for glyphosate information

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has further extended its call for information on the herbicide glyphosate.

The current closing date had been tomorrow – Friday 24 September. This has been pushed out to 5pm Friday 22 October.

“We are conscious that some individuals or organisations which may wish to provide input will have had other priorities and pressures to manage due to the COVID-19 alert level changes,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s Hazardous Substances group.

“To ensure these parties get an opportunity to have their say, we have extended the deadline by a month.”

Glyphosate has been used as a weed killer by home gardeners, farmers, and councils in New Zealand since the 1970s. Although it is commonly known as the active ingredient in Roundup, 89 mixtures containing glyphosate have been approved for use in this country.

The EPA monitors international developments and continually reviews global research on hazardous substances, including glyphosate, and says it has no evidence that risks associated with using glyphosate, or its hazardous nature, have changed.

But it believes  the time is right to take another look at this substance.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) are reviewing the classification and approval of glyphosate.  Their conclusions are set to be released in mid-2022.

It is issuing a call for information to build a greater understanding of how glyphosate-containing products are being used in New Zealand by the time the EU findings are published and to ensure it is better prepared to assess those findings.

Find out more and respond to the call for information
Read more about glyphosate

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority

EPA requires toxic fumigant to be phased out by 2033 – experts comment on the decision

The Environmental Protection Authority has decided to phase out the use of methyl bromide gas by 2033.

Methyl bromide is a toxic and ozone-depleting  biosecurity tool, used internationally to kill pests. India and China require its use on logs they receive from New Zealand.

Under the phase-out programme, ship-hold fumigation will be banned from 1 January 2023.

This rule change recognises it is not possible to recapture methyl bromide during shiphold fumigation.  Moreover, the risks to human health and the environment outweigh the benefits.

Operators using methyl bromide while the bans are phased in will be required to provide annual reports to the EPA about their activities in greater detail than before, to ensure actions are being taken to reduce methyl bromide emissions. This information is additional to the existing requirements administered by WorkSafe NZ.

The EPAs Decision-making Committee is encouraging continued negotiations with international trade partners to reduce and eliminate the use of methyl bromide and explore acceptance of alternatives. Continue reading

EPA extends its call for information on the use of glyphosate

Hard on the heels of news that recent surveys by scientists have found half or more of arable farms and vineyards in some regions have weeds resistant to commonly used herbicides, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has extended its call for information on the herbicide glyphosate by four weeks.

The new deadline to respond is now 5 pm on Friday 24 September.

General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Chris Hill, says the EPA wants to hear from more professional users and those involved in the supply of glyphosate.

“While we have had a good response from the public, we want to make sure importers, retailers, professional users and industry groups have had enough time to collate information and provide meaningful data. We have already received one request from a major industry group for an extension. The more information we receive the better informed we’ll be to decide what next steps to take.

“So far, professional users, industry organisations and suppliers have made up just over 40 percent of total respondents; the rest are members of the public. We have received 136 responses since we opened the call for information at the end of April.” Continue reading

Methyl bromide recapture hearing formally closed

An Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decision-making committee has formally closed its hearing on the recapture rules for the fumigant methyl bromide.

The gas is mainly used to fumigate logs and timber products before they are exported. It is a toxic and ozone-depleting substance.

Recapture was required by October 2020, but this was pre-empted by the industry group Stakeholders In Methyl Bromide Reduction (STIMBR) applying for reconsideration of the definition and timing of recapture. The approval to import or manufacture the gas cannot be revoked as part of this process.

A public hearing was held in August last year and remained open while the Decision-making Committee continued to receive information.

The committee has now officially closed the hearing, paving the way for a decision by September. This means no further information can be submitted to or be considered by the committee.

The decision, and any future requirements, will take priority over the recapture extensions previously granted to the applicant.

All of the material before the Decision-making Committee is available on the EPA website.

Read the official record of the hearing closure (PDF, 141KB)

Read about the modified reassessment of methyl bromide

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority

An open letter from EPA chief to Simon Upton on environmental research

The Environmental Protection Authority this released an open letter its CEO, Dr Allan Freeth, recently wrote to Simon Upton, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The letter expresses Dr Freeth’s support of Mr Upton’s report, “A review of the funding and prioritisation of environmental research in New Zealand”.

In the report, published last December, Mr Upton urged the Government to reconsider the way it funds environmental research in New Zealand.

The research is fragmented, he said, and funding for New Zealand’s environmental collections and databases has been inadequate. This made  it harder to respond appropriately and in a timely fashion to the many environmental challenges New Zealand faced.

The report examines how public funds are invested in environmental research in New Zealand, and calls for an environmental research strategy to be developed by the Ministry for the Environment, and dedicated, long-term funding for environmental research to be ringfenced.

The Commissioner proposed two models for disbursing the research funds, one of which would involve the establishment of a dedicated Environmental Research Council.

In  his letter of support, Dr Freeth says: Continue reading