Place a moratorium on 1080 poisoned food drops & divert funds to save lives from COVID-19

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We urge our New Zealand Government to divert the $millions of taxpayers’ funds from 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) aerial poisoned food drop operations, towards positive measures that will save New Zealander’s lives during this Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia Pacific states, in its recent media release: “As the Coronavirus disease continues to wreak havoc on thousands of lives and millions of livelihoods across the world, we call on governments to exert all efforts to ensure the food security of the people, especially those from the most vulnerable sectors.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirms that multiple burdens from COVID-19 present an international crisis on a level never seen before. Here in New Zealand, our healthcare system, economy and day-to-day lives face significant pressures in the months, maybe years ahead. As PAN have noted, “…the effects of the pandemic are far more magnified for the poor, including the rural people.” Drinking from natural water sources and harvesting kai from our environment has been a way of life for many New Zealanders for generations. However, as aerial 1080 poisoned food drops continue, access to safe drinking water and food security reduces, due to risks from the pesticide’s contamination. Constraints from the inevitable economic recession during and after the COVID-19 crisis, puts lives at risk for individuals in isolated, rural communities, who already suffer from limited sources of income.

The New Zealand Government has set out provision for NZ$12 billion financial support for healthcare, small businesses and individuals on welfare benefits. However, compared to the evidence of the suffering of citizens in other countries, these measures are unlikely to be enough.

Meanwhile, in recent months, the NZ Department of Conservation (DOC) received NZ$100 million boost when its departmental funding for 2019-20 rose to $500m. In this new emergency, that funding is now desperately needed elsewhere. With only very few (176) Intensive Care Units (ICU) beds available in the whole of New Zealand, and 221 ventilators (crucial  for victims of COVID-19) we urgently need investment in equipment, services, training, testing and salaries for more healthcare professionals.

Now is the right time to place a priority on the people of New Zealand. The NZ Government adhere to the WHO guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19; it now also needs to adhere to the WHO guidelines in relation to the use of 1080 poison. We need to act together as a nation to put in place a moratorium on all aerial 1080 poisoned food drop operations. This is the opportunity for us to immediately shift focus and funding into sustainable, essential services for the sake of human life preservation.