Pesticides Board to look into 2,4-D

24 March 2000

The Pesticides Board's Registrar is welcoming submissions from the public on the agricultural herbicide, 2,4-D.

The Board is happy to receive submissions from the public prior to its next meeting when the registration status of 2,4-D in New Zealand will be discussed.

"We are interested in gathering any new information on 2,4-D and the current issues surrounding it. The Board is contacting the Ministry of Health, OSH, and ERMA NZ in hope of convening an expert group to consider any new information. It is intended that the expert group will make recommendations on the registration status of 2,4-D, or its conditions of use, to the Board," said John Reeve, the Board's Registrar.

"We are interested in any sound scientific and technical developments regarding the products the Board has registered, and if need be, will adjust the registration status accordingly," he said.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, on behalf of the Pesticides Board, maintains watch on issues regarding pesticide use and its registration status overseas. Relevant scientific and technical information is used, along with advice from other New Zealand government agencies as a basis for future registration, or reviews of currently registered products.

It is expected that the expert group will report back to the Pesticides Board by the end of April. The Board will then evaluate the information and make its own decision on the need for any change to the registration status of current 2,4-D products.

Northland farmer Laurie Newman was exposed five years ago to spray drift of 2,4-D Butyl ester, a form of 2,4-D that is no longer registered in New Zealand. An Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) medical panel earlier this year linked the use of the agricultural chemical 2, 4-D to some of the symptoms Mr Newman has complained of.

The Pesticides Board met with Mr Newman in 1996 to investigate the situation. As a result of spray drift concerns at that time, the Board required 2,4-D manufacturers and marketers to withdraw Butyl ester formulations of 2,4-D from the marketplace and replace it with a less volatile ethylhexyl formulations.

The herbicide 2, 4-D Butyl ester has not been licensed in New Zealand since 1997. This means it cannot be manufactured, brought or sold in New Zealand.

There are currently 12 products registered that contain the less volatile formulations of 2,4-D.

2,4-D is used as a herbicide, and as such its residues would not be commonly found on food.

Mr Newman has offered to appear before the Pesticides Board to discuss the issue. The Board will await the outcome of the expert recommendations before considering this request.

For further information contact:

Debbie Morris, Director, Agricultural Chemicals and Veterinary Medicines Group, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Ph 04 4744141

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