- The Soil & Health Association of New Zealand Inc. (“Soil & Health”) is a charitable society registered under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908. It is the largest membership organization supporting organic food and farming in New Zealand and is one of the oldest organic organisations in the world, established in 1941. Soil & Health’s objectives are to promote sustainable organic agricultural practices and the principles of good health based on sound nutrition and the maxim: “Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people”. Its membership is chiefly composed of home gardeners and consumers, organic farmers and growers, secondary producers, retailers and restaurateurs. Soil & Health publishes the bi-monthly ‘Organic NZ’ magazine – New Zealand’s leading organics magazine.
- Soil & Health is opposed to the use of harmful pesticides in Aotearoa New Zealand. As an organisation we advocate for farmers and growers to adopt natural, organic, non-harmful methods of pest and disease management. We believe that researchers, farmers and growers should be encouraged to develop and implement nonchemical alternatives to pesticides that foster soil microbial life instead of destroying it.
- Numerous independent scientific studies have raised serious concerns about the effects that pesticides have on human health and the environment. Soil & Health therefore opposes the application by Bayer New Zealand Limited (“the applicant”) to apply for the modified reassessment of Luna Privilege and Luna Sensation to allow their use at a higher maximum application rate on new crops.
Adverse human health effects
- Fluopyram – the active ingredient in both Luna Privilege and Luna Sensation, is a known carcinogen. It is listed as ‘highly carcinogenic’ by the Pesticide Action Network (“PAN”). Fluopyram is also listed as one of the ‘Bad Actor’ chemicals by PAN. In order to identify a “most toxic” set of pesticides, PAN and Californians for Pesticide Reformcreated the term PAN Bad Actor pesticides. These pesticides are at least one of the following:
- Known or probable carcinogens, as designated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), U.S. EPA, U.S. National Toxicology Program, and the state of California’s Proposition 65 list.
- Reproductive or developmental toxicants, as designated by the state of California’s Proposition 65 list.
- Neurotoxic cholinesterase inhibitors, as designated by California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Materials Safety Data Sheet for the particular chemical, or PAN staff evaluation of chemical structure (for organophosphorus compounds).
- Known groundwater contaminants, as designated by the state of California (for actively registered pesticides) or from historic groundwater monitoring records (for banned pesticides).
- Pesticides with high acute toxicity, as designated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. EPA, or the U.S. National Toxicology Program.
- The application states that for Luna Sensation “changing the maximum rates, number of applications and timings of application could potentially increase the exposure of the environment”. We agree with this statement. While the application states that Luna Sensation has low acute oral toxicity and does not trigger acute dermal and inhalation toxicity classification, the use of it still requires it to be used by personnel qualified and experienced in the handling of agricultural chemicals and the product label itself recommends use of protective clothing and washing hands and face before meals and after applying the product. This in itself indicates that there is a high level of toxicity in the product.
- The application also states that for Luna Sensation “spray drift could occur resulting in off-target effects and bystander exposure.” The applicant states that it would be unlikely that Luna Sensation would be applied in a manner that could result in spray drift and therefore the risk of human and environmental exposure due to spray drift is minimal. We disagree with this statement. There is no detail provided to give assurance that spray drift would be unlikely. We therefore consider that the risk of human and environmental exposure would not be minimal.
- There is a real risk of people living in rural communities, close to where commercial horticulture takes place, who may be exposed to spray drift. Young children are especially vulnerable as they often play outdoors and in the fields. Children at school can be subjected to pesticide exposures from nearby operations. A number of studies have linked exposure to pesticide drift to chronic conditions in children such as autism spectrum disorders (Roberts et al 2007) and childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Rull et al 2009).
- People and communities are already at risk from spray drift exposure however of most concern to Soil & Health is that the applicant plans to double the application rate – increasing the risk bi-fold.
Adverse environmental effects
- The application states that: “Luna Sensation could have significant adverse effects if released directly into the aquatic environment.” PAN lists Trifloxystrobin – one of the active ingredients in Luna Sensation, as having ‘Slight to Very High Toxicity’ for fish in the Acute Toxicity Range.
- The Environmental Protection Authority in the United States in its Pesticide Fact Sheet for Trifloxystrobin states that: “Trifloxystrobin has been classified as being highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates”. It further lists it as being highly toxic to a number of different freshwater fish and invertebrate species including Rainbow trout.
- The application states that under conditions of normal use the product is not expected to end up in water bodies or water ways. We consider however that ‘normal use’ is not a sufficient indicator of what use is, nor does the application provide any detail about what normal use is. Further, we consider that exposure to aquatic environments is inevitable through rain and run-off. New Zealand’s waterways are already in a dire state with a staggering 62% of monitored waterways being unsafe for swimming. We consider that allowing for a higher maximum application rate for Luna Sensation on new crops will further put New Zealand’s waterways as risk.
Failure to meet requirements under HSNO Act
- Due to the potential adverse effects of Fluopyram and Trifloxystrobin listed above, we consider that the EPA should reject the modified reassessment of Luna Privilege and Luna Sensation and not allow their use at a higher maximum application rate on new crops. If the EPA were to approve the modified reassessment it would be failing to recognise and provide for the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems, as required to do under section 5(a) of the HSNO Act.
- Section 28 (2) (b) requires that each application for approval include information on all the possible adverse effects of each substance. We consider that the EPA has failed to meet this requirement as the EPA has not assessed the cumulative and synergistic effects of chemicals contained in the Luna Sensation and Luna Privilege products, and whether they increase the hazardous rating, making the compounds even more eco toxic than if applied singly.
Alternatives to Fluopyram and Trifloxystrobin formulations and other toxic pesticides
- Conventional agriculture relies on pesticides to protect crops from pests and diseases, including synthetic herbicides to control weeds, and synthetic fertilisers to promote crop growth. Over time this heavy use of synthetic chemicals reduces the soil biota and the productive capacity of the soil, and creates increased resistance by pests to the chemicals used, as well as the resurgence of secondary pests. These chemicals are also dispersed in the environment, polluting waterways and damaging ecosystems.
- Numerous studies on the adverse impacts of pesticides and chemical fertilisers have raised awareness about the use of synthetic chemicals in agriculture, how effective they actually are in treating pests and diseases, and the impact they are having on human health as well as the wider environment. People are turning to more natural forms of pest and disease control that are more effective, sustainable and healthier in the long term.
- Organic agriculture has a holistic approach to pest and disease management that avoids the need for pesticides by instead focusing on building healthy fertile soil with abundant microbial life, fostering natural predators and using natural remedies. Truly well-nourished plants do not attract pests or provide a suitable conditions for pests and diseases to develop. Farmers and producers try to create healthy soil so that plants and animals can be healthy, and build up good natural defenses against pests and diseases. The long-term health of the soil is taken into consideration, rather than trying to deal with the immediate problem with synthetic sprays.
- We question the benefit increasing the application rate of Luna Priviledge and Luna Sensation would have. We are aware that there are a number of fungal diseases with medium resistance to these formulations, and question whether the applicant is actually increasing the resistance rather than controlling the fungus with better alternative solutions.
- Due to the potential adverse effects associated with the use of Luna Privilege and Luna Sensation aswell as the lack of convincing evidence of both its need and safety the Soil & Health Association consider that the EPA should take a precautionary approach as required under section 7 of the HSNO Act, and reject the modified reassessment of Luna Privilege and Luna Sensation and not allow their use at a higher maximum application rate on new crops.
- Soil & Health wish to be in heard in support of our submission.
Name: Mischa Davis
Position: Policy Advisor
The Soil & Health Association
PO Box 340002
 Page 7 Application