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

Agrichemicals and tea tree oil are among chemical classification updates

The hazard classifications of 123 substances have been updated as part of the latest Chemical Review by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The authority regulates agrichemicals, household chemicals and other dangerous goods and substances under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. As well as evaluating and approving substances, it can reassess and make decisions about whether the hazard classifications and controls (or rules of use) need updating.

New information such as study data, and reviews or assessments by overseas chemical regulators, has prompted hazard classification updates for these 123 substances – including single chemicals and mixtures.

The EPA has updated the hazard classification of two agrichemicals, pymetrozine and chlorpropham, to reflect their cancer-causing properties. The changes will translate to clearer labelling guidance for the professionals who use the substances. Continue reading

EPA invites input on identifying new organisms which should be deregulated

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is seeking input on which new organisms should no longer hold regulatory status as “new” because they are effectively resident in New Zealand.

This deregulation process is conducted under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act, for species that arrived after 29 July 1998 and are now established in this country.

One example is the Varroa mite, which was first identified in Auckland in 2000 and then spread throughout New Zealand. Scientific research was limited by regulatory barriers, so the mite was deregulated in 2011 to help researchers develop pest management options.

When this process was last run in 2018, five organisms were deregulated including a ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), a bacterium (Komagataeibacter xylinus), and a virus (Listeria phage P100).

The EPA is now starting with a clean slate, and asking public sector organisations, Crown Research Institutes, academics, and the public to submit candidates for a new round of deregulation.

Proposing a candidate does not guarantee a change in its regulatory status. Organisms are assessed on a case-by-case basis and, once the Minister for the Environment has decided on a shortlist, further public consultation will take place.

“This process is about freeing up regulatory barriers, including making it easier for scientists wanting to conduct research on these organisms, and removing the unnecessary financial costs involved,” says the EPA’s General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Chris Hill.

The EPA is responsible for evaluating and managing the risks of introducing new organisms into New Zealand, under the HSNO Act. All hazardous substances and new organisms must be approved before they can be imported or used in this country.

Submissions close at 5pm on 6 May.

Read more about the EPA’s call for candidates

Read about changing the status of a new organism

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority

Call for urgent widening of NZ debate and action on gene editing

New Zealand urgently needs to debate and action on gene editing, with the aim of boosting New Zealand’s bioeconomy, a BioTechNZ survey report says.

There is global interest in biotechnology as a means of altering biological processes to improve human health, food production and environmental sustainability the new report says.

Increasing demand for food, shortages of natural resources and water and environmental concerns have been driving the growth of biotech in agriculture.

The report says:

“Any new technology must be trialled and understood by the public, before providing mainstream benefit. To avoid polarisation of perspectives in New Zealand, open public debate is recommended, with the government ensuring the public have access to the facts.

“Our research has identified a number of barriers that need to be overcome to enable the growth of the New Zealand biotechnology market.

“These constraints include access to capital and access to skills and talent. The current regulatory framework governing genetic modified organisms (GMO) is also a major barrier to growth for the New Zealand biotechnology sector.”

The global biotech market is forecast to be worth $US729 billion by 2025. New Zealand is positioned well: ranked fourth in the world for innovation potential in biotech. Continue reading

First step towards reassessing controversial insecticide

A decision-making committee appointed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has found that grounds exist to reassess the insecticide, chlorpyrifos, and the related compound chlorpyrifos-methyl.

Chlorpyrifos is currently approved in New Zealand for commercial use in crops, as a veterinary medicine, and as a timber treatment chemical. It is an organophosphate, meaning it has an active ingredient that kills bugs and insects in orchards, vineyards, vegetable and cereal crops.

Several countries have moved to restrict or prohibit chlorpyrifos in recent years. The European Commission has not renewed its approval for the substance, Australia has cancelled domestic use, and Canada has proposed cancelling most existing uses. Continue reading

EPA takes first step towards reassessment of copper substances

Significant new information has led a decision-making committee to accept that grounds exist to reassess copper powder and compounds, the Environmental Protection Authority announced today.

These substances are chemicals that have broad spectrum use, including as fungicides for organically produced fruit and vegetables.

Establishing grounds is a specific legal requirement that must be met under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) before an application can be made for a substance to be reassessed.

A reassessment involves reviewing hazardous substances already approved in New Zealand, to decide if the approval needs to be revoked or whether rule changes are required.

The International Copper Association applied for reassessment grounds after the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD) published a comprehensive review on the hazards of these chemicals. The OECD review found some copper substances “do pose both an acute and chronic hazard to the environment”.

The OECD report further noted that some copper substances are hazardous to human health. Eye irritation and ingestion or inhalation were specifically identified as acute hazards, which means they can have immediate health effects after exposure.

Taking the OECD findings into account, if an application for reassessment is now made it could lead to hazard classification changes.

Hazard classifications describe whether a substance is explosive or flammable, for example, and its human health and environmental effects. Any changes to hazard classifications may also have an effect on the rules that apply to the substances.

Read the full decision on grounds for reassessment HERE and find out about the process for reassessing hazardous substances  HERE. 

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority

EPA says grounds have been established to reassess neonicotinoids

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has determined there are grounds to reassess approvals of substances containing neonicotinoids used in New Zealand.

Neonicotinoids, a group of insecticides, have been the subject of ongoing concern regarding their effects on bee populations internationally. A reassessment is a formal review of the rules controlling a substance that is already in use in New Zealand.

“Grounds” is a specific term under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO). It refers to certain criteria required by HSNO, which must be met before a reassessment can be initiated.

Notification of grounds means an application can be made to reassess a substance. Continue reading

Reassessments of methyl bromide and benzyl alkonium chlorides

The Environmental Protection Authority today released two press statements regarding chemicals used in agriculture and horticulture and for quarantine fumigation.

First, it has initiated an application for a modified reassessment of benzyl alkonium chloride (BAC).

Second, it has produced a timeline to show the progress of an application to reassess methyl bromide.

Submissions on the EPA’s proposed updates to the BAC approvals are now open.

BAC are a family of surfactants used in New Zealand used – for example – in detergents, pesticides, veterinary medicines, timber treatments, and disinfectants. Continue reading

Proposed changes to laws and regulations

The Environmental Protection Authority has published its schedule of upcoming public consultations on proposed changes to the laws and regulations it administers.

From time to time, it consults publicly on proposed changes to those laws and regulations.  The information gathered informs changes, updates and improvements to matters that are often technical and complex.

The first project on the list is a consultation, opening in late August, on proposals to amend the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act.

The Government is proposing to amend the Act to allow the EPA to make more timely decisions, including the ability to better use international information about substances.

The proposals will also provide the EPA with more flexibility and discretion when making decisions, and help it to be more effective and efficient.

The Ministry for the Environment will run the consultation.

Check the Upcoming public consultations section under “public consultations” on this website.

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority


Views sought on reassessment of methyl bromide

he Environmental Protection Authority is seeking submissions on an application for the reassessment of the hazardous substance methyl bromide.
Methyl bromide is used as a fumigant in the quarantine and pre-shipment treatment of logs, produce, flowers and other goods.

The EPA’s chemical reassessment programme reviews hazardous substances already approved in New Zealand. Under New Zealand law, a chemical’s approval does not expire. Reassessment is the only formal legal process we can use to review the approval of a chemical classed as a hazardous substance.

In April 2018, the EPA decided that grounds existed for a reassessment of methyl bromide, following an application by Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction Inc (STIMBR).

Grounds to reassess were granted based on data that showed New Zealand’s use of the fumigant has increased from over 400 tonnes a year in 2010, to more than 600 tonnes in 2016. One of the criteria to meet grounds for reassessment under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act is a significant change in the quantity of substance imported into, or manufactured in, New Zealand.

Earlier this year, STIMBR applied for a reassessment of the approval for methyl bromide.
The EPA is processing this application as a modified reassessment. This means that the reassessment will only consider specific aspects of the approval, such as the required controls.

The approval to import or manufacture methyl bromide cannot be revoked in this type of reassessment.

Users of methyl bromide in New Zealand are required to recapture and safely dispose of the gas used in their fumigation activity from October 2020. The timeframe was set by the 2010 reassessment decision, to allow for the development, acquisition and installation of suitable equipment for recapture.

Submissions on the reassessment application close at 5 pm on 29 August.

 Source:  Environmental Protection Authority