In 2008 for example, beef contaminated with the pesticide endosulfan was exported to South Korea, New Zealand’s second largest beef market. This occurred just one week after the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) approved the use of the chemical for fodder crops (crops to feed livestock), and to kill earthworms in sports fields, parks and airport areas (Green Party Media Release 2007). Media coverage associated with these events can be damaging to the tourism industry.
“New Zealand sells its produce with a clean, green, pure, natural, branding image that is contradicted by actual practices, such as using one of the dirtiest pesticides in the world in our food supply.
Sooner or later the global markets are going to catch on to this hypocrisy and New Zealand can expect a much tougher time making the image stick,” said Dr Meriel Watts of Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand (PANA NZ) (Joint Media Release – PANA NZ and Soil and Health Association NZ).
It is now being re-evaluated for its safety for use as a pesticide in New Zealand following reviews currently under way by the European Union (EU), US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) (ERMA Endosulfan Reassessment report 2007). It is considered acutely toxic to humans, and very toxic to aquatic life.
New Zealand’s growing popularity as a wine-producing nation could also be come under fire from criticism of the ‘clean and green’ image in the media, based on the rates of pesticide and herbicide use in viticulture. For example, vineyard posts in New Zealand are routinely treated with a copper-chromium-arsenic mixture, known as CCA. This is a common practice and most non-organic vineyards use posts treated with this complex. The posts in each hectare of vineyard carry 12, 21 and 17kg of copper, chromium and arsenic respectively, based on a density of approximately 580 posts per hectare. Long-term simulations, with post-replacement, predicted that close to the post, and immediately under it, the concentration of arsenic in the soil would, after about 25 years meet, or exceed, the National Environmental Protection measures (NEPM)(1999) guideline values of 100 mg/kg (Vogeler 2005).
There was an increase of more than 25% in pesticide use between 1999 and 2003 in New Zealand and that number is expected to continue to rise (Manktelow et al 2004).