1080 Poison Push Bad News for Organic Industry and Wildlife
Humane Society International (HSI) has written to the Organic Industry Standards and Certification Council to express strong opposition to a recent submission seeking to lift restrictions on the use of controversial 1080 poison on organic farms. The submission, prepared by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, attempts to downplay serious impacts on native wildlife and animal welfare implications, and if adopted will tarnish the entire Australian organic industry and threaten a range of burgeoning export markets.
Australia’s broad-scale use of 1080, which is typically injected into meat baits and distributed across large areas (including aerial bating), is internationally infamous. Strict organic guidelines in countries such as the United States will undoubtedly affect Australian organic producers' export markets. Additionally, peak industry body groups such as the Organic Federation of Australia have stated their opposition to the use of 1080 on organic farms, highlighting a lack of industry consensus and support.
1080 baits kill not only target species such as foxes and “wild dogs”, but a wide range of native wildlife including quolls, birds of prey, and dingoes. Dingoes play a particularly important role in suppressing invasive predators such as cats and foxes, effectively assisting the conservation of a wide range of native species threatened by their predation. Furthermore, death by 1080 poisoning is highly distressing, painful and slow, and lifting organic restrictions on its use will result in serious animal welfare implications.
There is also evidence to suggest that dingo and “wild dog” baiting programs de-stabilise packs and lead to increased livestock predation by younger, less experienced animals, meaning that if the submission is successful it may have the opposite effect of its supposed intention of reducing livestock predation. HSI is particularly pursuing a national conservation (protection) plan for dingoes with the Federal Government.
“Australian organic farmers have a fine reputation of going above and beyond to produce ethical and sustainable produce that considers the entire ecosystem,” said HSI Senior Program Manager Evan Quartermain. “The use of poisonous baits that kill not only target species but their ecologically essential native suppressers is unacceptable and counterproductive, and closing the door to significant export markets such as the US to allow it is just absurd. This is a premium industry seriously considering a nonsensical move that will weaken its own potential, and negatively impact Australia’s biodiversity,” Mr Quartermain concluded.
The Organic Industry Standards and Certification Council’s response to the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre submission is expected in early July. HSI has alerted its US office and its 12 million members about this development.