Eco-terrorism: When activists loose the battle (of 1080)

New Zealand, like majority countries world-wide, must stop using the toxin sodium fluoroacetate, popularly known as 1080; but threatening to poison babies is no way to achieve that

Opinions cannot be more divided than this.


On one side, you have the Department of Conservation (DoC), New Zealand Government, which says “Biodegradable 1080 poison is used in New Zealand to control pests and protect New Zealand's native forests and wildlife”.

“1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) is a poison that is mixed into baits and used to control a range of pests, especially possums, rats and the stoats which eat the poisoned rats. 1080 is biodegradable, dilutes quickly in water and does not build up in the food chain. The active component of the poison occurs naturally in many plants found in Australia, South America and Africa. These plants evolved the poison as a defence against browsing animals,” the Department adds.

On the reasons for using 1080, the Department calls it “the most cost-effective method of providing landscape scale pest control over difficult terrain”, as the average cost per hectare of aerially spreading 1080 is just $17. Whereas other methods of ground pest control such as trapping can cost three times as much, DoC claims.


Opposite spectrum is occupied by the Ban 1080 Party, which claims since “1080 does not choose which animals it harms, it also kills native birds like robins, tits, ruru (morepork) and kea, and is deadly to livestock, deer, dogs and humans”.

Making a case for aerial 1080 drops to stop, the Party quotes studies that “have shown evidence of considerable harm to some native species from aerial 1080 operations”. “This is a high price to pay for pest control. But it gets worse. The surveys also found that rats and stoats return to or exceed previous population numbers within two years.”


Whichever side one supports, everyone agrees that the threat to lace infant milk formula with 1080 unless the DoC stops using it for pest removal was in bad taste and totally unwarranted.

Some say it was just a last-ditch publicity-seeking effort of increasingly frustrated and helpless anti-1080 extremists [with no intention of actually carrying out the threat]. Others say it was someone trying to discredit the anti-1080 movement.


Samples of 1080-laced milk powder was posted to Fonterra and Federated Farmers in November, 2014, with the deadline set to March, 2015, for the government to stop using 1080. After initial silence, the police launched Operation Concord, questioning anti-1080 activists and testing hundreds of milk products.

Details on the arrest are here