There were dramatic scenes this week as a group of 1080 protesters stormed the NZME office in Whanganui.

Earlier on Wednesday the group had descended on the city's industrial belt, protesting outside the state-owned pest control manufacturing plant, Orillion.

The group wants the Government to ban the use of the controversial poison 1080, saying amongst other things it's responsible for contaminating waterways.

"Most people don't believe we'd drop 1080 into water but it's dropped into almost all streams," Waikato Regional councillor and anti-1080 lobbyist Kathy White said.


Sue Grey is a lawyer spearheading the anti-1080 movement, and previously worked for DoC.

"DoC claim that 1080 is biodegradable," she said. "There are a lot of questions about what it degrades into because they're not safe. Fluoride compounds are not safe."

"The other way of looking at it is that cowshit is biodegradable too, but it still causes a lot of harm, it's still a contaminant. So it's glossing over a serious problem by saying we can safely put it into our water because it's biodegradable. If you read the label, it's harmful to aquatic organisms."

DoC says lobbyists are misleading the public over the use of the poison and that the use of 1080 protects native species. But with the rise of misinformation and protesting, it's becoming increasingly difficult to communicate the correct messages.

But the anti-1080 movement continues to dispute those messages, despite independent analysis by Landcare Research showing 1080 is safe.

"A toxin by definition is unsafe. It's the risk management of that toxin which allows its use with tight regulations to ensure compliance," DoC spokesperson Herb Christophers said.

"Just as a car has to be built and comply with standards, a pest control operation has to pass a series of checks and balances before it can proceed."

DoC says the benefits are plain to see; bird numbers have doubled in areas where 1080 has been used.


Anti-1080 protesters remain unconvinced though, and accuse the Government of lying.

Among the protesters was Joanne Wihongi, who was visiting from Brisbane.

"Ratana water smells like rotten eggs, Marton water is brown," she said. "Every single human should be entitled to clean safe drinking water."

As the debate rages on, it seem likely that dramatic scenes like the storming of NZME will continue to play out across the country.

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