Key Points:

There is now a familiar litany of scientifically insupportable claims about what great things aerial 1080, a universal poison, is doing for our forest ecosystems. The people of New Zealand have a right to know the truth about what the scientific evidence shows.

We have audited Department of Conservation scientific research and produced an 88-page monograph reviewing more than 100 scientific papers.

The results are startling and belie most of the department's claims.

First, there is no credible scientific evidence showing that any species of native bird benefits from the dropping of tonnes of 1080 into our forest ecosystems, as claimed by the department and Kevin Hackwell. There is certainly no evidence of net ecosystem benefit.

We have repeatedly challenged DoC and Mr Hackwell, a representative of the Forest and Bird Society, to come forward with the hard scientific evidence for their "dead forest" claims. They have not.

Second, considerable evidence exists that DoC's aerial 1080 operations are doing serious harm, as one would expect, given that 1080 is toxic to all animals. It kills large numbers of native species of birds, invertebrates and bats.

Moreover, most native species are completely unstudied. In addition considerable evidence shows there are chronic and sublethal effects to vertebrate endocrine and reproductive systems, possibly including those of humans.

Third, DoC claims that one can drop food laced with 1080, a universal poison (World Health Organisation classification "1A extremely hazardous") indiscriminately into a semi-tropical forest ecosystem and only negatively affect one or two target "pest" species. That is counterintuitive and scientifically improbable.

Fourth, as far as we can determine no other country in the world is doing (or has ever done) anything remotely similar - mass poisoning of a semi-tropical ecosystem on the scale that the department is now doing to ours.

Fifth, and perhaps most disturbing, is that what the department-sponsored research shows has been habitually misrepresented - entirely unjustifiable assertions regarding 1080's benefits and lack of harm.

Statements like those of Mr Hackwell that the forests will be "dead" without poisoning them with 1080, and from John McLennan (Landcare Research) and Al Morrison (Director General of DoC) that 1080 is existentially necessary to Kiwis is pure demagoguery and scientific nonsense.

What is at risk by continuation of this extraordinary practice - and it is unique in the world - is the ecological integrity of our forest ecosystems, our reputation as an environmentally sane and responsible country, and our existence as a society in which reason and rationality can triumph over bureaucratic prerogative and budgetary gain.

Since Galileo Galilee first discovered the moons of Jupiter in the 17th century, the way to resolve this kind of disagreement has been to do the experiment and examine the evidence, and that is precisely what we urge everyone to do.

Don't believe DoC. Don't believe Mr Hackwell. Don't believe us - believe the evidence. To that end we will provide a copy of our report and the source scientific research papers to all who would like to read them.

* Quinn and Patricia Whiting-O'Keefe are retired scientists.