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24 March 1997
New Zealand Farmer
I write regarding a series of articles in your paper relating to the unlicensed animal ‘remedy’, Fertex (27 February and 6 and 13 March).
I am extremely concerned that an otherwise reputable publication such as yours should be in the business of apparently encouraging farmers to break the law. Fertex is an unlicensed product, the use of which goes against sections of the Animal Remedies Act, the Animals Protection Act, and the Meat (Residue) Regulations.
The reason it has not been licensed is that the licence application for the use of Fertex in sheep has not met the technical or legal requirements of the Animal Remedies Board for licensing an animal remedy. There is therefore no adequate scientific proof that this product is either safe or effective. The ad hoc and anecdotal testimonies of farmers, as quoted in your paper, do not constitute adequate scientific proof. The ARB has not received any application whatsoever for use of Fertex in cattle.
One individual already has had five convictions for conducting experimental work on animals without an approved code of ethical conduct, which is contrary to the Animals Protection Act. He faces a further two charges for the same offence, one for aiding and abetting such experimental work, seven for selling an unlicensed animal remedy and two for using an unlicensed remedy. One of the products involved in these charges was Fertex.
The Ministry of Agriculture does not take such prosecutions lightly. To encourage farmers to use this product is irresponsible. Not only could farmers face prosecution, they risk harming their flocks or herds, not to mention New Zealand’s international meat trade, because of the severe injection lesions caused by the product, and the possible threat of chemical residues.
Bruce J. Ross
Director-General of Agriculture