Anti-pollutant may be banned

PENNY WARDLE AND FAIRFAX NZ
Last updated 08:36 25/01/2013

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A product used to reduce pollution in Kiwi waterways has been pulled off the market after traces of it were found in New Zealand milk.

While the Ministry for Primary Industries insists there are no food safety or health risks, it says the presence of dicyandiamide (DCD) alone could have major implications for exporters.

DCD is the active ingredient in eco-n and DcN - products used to reduce nitrogen leaching on dairy farms. It has been added to an international list of substances that must be tested for, by organisations such as the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Nelson-based consultant Brent Boyce says dairy farmers and the environment will be the losers following the product's withdrawal from the market.

Mr Boyce, of FarmWise, said the nitrogen inhibitor eco-n had become increasingly popular with his dairying clients in Marlborough and Nelson. Farmers sprayed eco-n on to pasture once in the autumn, once in spring and sometimes more often to minimise nitrogen leaching and improve pasture growth, he said.

Every dairy farm was required to run a nutrient budget to minimise pollution, Mr Boyce said.

Eco-n definitely helped his clients achieve targets which would now be more difficult.

"Farmers will shrug their shoulders and say, ‘what next?"'

"You try to do your best and help the environment, then a tool like this gets taken away."

Farmers, Fonterra and the Marlborough District Council had been working together to keep waterways clean, he said. All would be the losers.

Mr Boyce said urgency should be placed on setting acceptable levels of DCD in food.

Primary Industries standards deputy director-general Carol Barnao said while DCD had not been found to impact food safety, the presence of residues in milk could be unacceptable to consumers and international markets, even in small amounts.

Food regulators around the world are tightening testing in line with more demanding markets and in some countries there is no tolerance to residues that fall outside standards.

Milk markets remain sensitive following the 2008 Chinese milk scandal, when at least six Chinese infants died and thousands were sickened after drinking melamine-contaminated milk. An assessment of DCD on farmland began last December when the ministry set up a working party that includes dairy and fertiliser companies.

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- The Marlborough Express

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