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The 1080 crisis

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The 1080 crisis Supply chain security Ecoterrorism vs. business competition

March 10, 2015Operation Concord

New Zealand police say suspected environmental activists are threatening to contaminate infant formula in a backlash against pesticide use. (ThanHnienNews)The threat had been under investigation since November 2014In March 2015 the police appealed for public assistance to track down the blackmailer. (Business Insider)

November, 2014Baby formula threatAnonymous letters were sent to dairy producers Fonterra and Federated Farmers, threatening to poison infant formula and other products if New Zealand did not cease to use the poison by the end of March (Stuff NZ)The threat was only made public in March but manufacturers, suppliers and distributors were advised to strengthen their supply chain already in November.

1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate)

1080 is a poison used by New Zealands Department of Conservation to control population of possums and non-native species. The pellets are applied to large areas of land by air.

ControversyNumerous activists protested against the use of 1080 in aerial drops, pointing out the risks to non-target species including dogs and to food chain. 1080 is the most toxic pesticide registered by the WHO. There is no known antidote.

Manufacturer: Tull Chemicals, Co., AL, USA

Tull Chemicals, Co., is the only producer of 1080. In the U.S., 1080 is used sparingly but more widely in New Zealand for pest control. 1972: 1080 use for livestock protection was banned in the U.S. 1981: EPA approved 1080 for limited use in poison-laced collars worn by sheep. In 2004, the plant was targeted over environmental concerns and fear of terrorism.

Regulatory status of 1080

November 2004Terrorism potentialConcerns raised about possible exploitation by terrorists to poison water supplies (Jacksonville)The poison is laced with black dye that would show up if 1080 got into floodwaters or a water reservoir H.R. 4567 was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security in 2006 (LOC)

The Oregonian (NTI)

Parliamentary debate

Fierce debate over aerial drops that potentially threaten New Zealand waterways occurred in November 2014(New Zealand Parliament)November 2014Source: Department of Conservation


The letters contained infant formula laced with a fatal amount of 1080.Prime Minister John Key said that written threats to contaminate infant formula amount to eco-terrorism (The Guardian)PM John Key reassured the public that the scare is most likely a hoax and that infant formula is safe. (Beehive)

1080 investigationActivistsDistanced themselves from the lettersCondemned the threats as 'the lowest of the low' (NZ Herald)Very limited number of people with access to pure 1080 (industry only)

Government Criminal blackmail threat1080 drops will not be affected as that would be 'bowing down to terrorism' (MassPolicy)Adverse consequence to NZ dairy industry (BI)All 1080 activists extensively questioned

Supply chain securityIncreased vigilance and security across the supply chain:strengthened security measures in retail storesenhanced milk and milk product testing, including a new 1080 testing programincreased vigilance by all relevant players in the supply chainextra physical security at manufacturing premises an audit program to confirm dairy processing facilities continue to maintain the highest level of security and vigilance.Operation Concord Q&A and Investigation

Manufacturers and global infant formula companies, grocery distribution companies and retailers, including supermarkets, were advised to put in place additional measures, including extra security.

October 2015 update

More than 2600 people considered in relation to the threats 60 persons of interest approached for interviewsBusinessman from Auckland arrested in October 2015 with criminal blackmail, name suppressed for 6 monthsArrest announced (NZ Herald)

February 2016 updateThe blackmailer was identified as Jeremy H. Kerr The businessman sells alternative poison cyanide-based Feratox The motivation was to increase market share by replacing 1080 in pest control. Jeremy Kerr (Stuff NZ)

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