The 1080 scare quietly reached the High Court.

22. november 2015 at 14:58 | Veronika Valdova, ARETE-ZOE |  Risk Management
On March 9, 2015, the New Zealand police held a press conference, in which they appealed to the public for information regarding the intent to use 1080 poison in infant formula.


The active ingredient, fluoroacetate, is identical to a substance that occurs naturally in many poisonous plants, which are found in Brazil, Africa, and Australia. New Zealand uses about 80% of the world's production of manufactured 1080.
The Department of Conservation uses 1080 to protect native species and reduce the risk of bovine tuberculosis from infected possums. Hundreds of tons of 1080 poisoned baits were dumped on native forests. The main opposition against the drops came from recreational hunters, environmentalists and pet owners. Large numbers of individuals, not associated in any particular movement, believe 1080 represents a longer-term risk in the natural environment and waterways. A strong majority of scientists support the use of 1080 in pest control.

In November 2014, New Zealand dairy producers Fonterra and Federated Farmers received anonymous letters, which threatened to put 1080 in infant formula unless the government banned the agricultural pesticide by the end of March. The letters contained samples of infant formula laced with 1080 poison.

Prime Minister John Key stated that the threats amount to eco-terrorism (Sky News).



The police was investigating the threats as criminal blackmail rather than act of terrorism. Operation Concord was launched. Police investigated more than 2,600 people as possibly related to the threats and interviewed 60 persons of interest.

Ministry for Primary Industries performed over 45,000 batch tests over the first few weeks and more than 150,000 in total since the threat. No trace of 1080 was found in any of them. Security has ramped up at supermarkets. Food producers and distributors reviewed and strengthened their operations and supply chain.

In October 2015, the case took a surprising turn.

A 60-year-old Auckland businessman has been arrested over the threats, facing two counts of criminal blackmail:
"Threatened expressly to endanger the safety of any person, namely infants, by releasing infant milk formula into the Chinese market contaminated with traces of 1080, with intent to cause Federated Farmers Incorporated to act in accordance with the will of [the defendant] to cause Federated Farmers to pressure the New Zealand Government to stop the use of 1080 in New Zealand." (NZ Herald)

The 60-year-old man, who appeared in Manukau District Court this afternoon facing two charges of criminal blackmail, cannot be named for at least six months.

Judge David McNaughton granted the defendant and several companies interim name suppression until at least April 2016 because of unrelated matters.
 

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