HOT TOPICS:   Election 2014  |    China   |  Peer-to-peer lending                                        RESOURCES:    Economic calendar   |  Median multiples

The comment stream

Reader poll

About the same.
24% (60 votes)
Better off.
22% (54 votes)
Much worse off.
19% (47 votes)
Much better off.
18% (45 votes)
Worse off.
18% (44 votes)
Total voters: 250

Older polls

Farmers rankled by "uninformed opinion" on what the detection of DCD in milk means

Posted in Rural News
Farmers bristle at how milk testing results are reported. Image sourced from Shutterstock.com

Federated Farmers says New Zealand’s continual testing for impurities and open disclosure is why New Zealand primary exports are of the highest quality.

“We are aware some media reporting seems to have moved beyond facts and into uninformed opinion,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers spokesperson on food safety.

“Residues of DCD (Dicyandiamide) nitrification inhibitors were detected but the levels recorded were in the order of parts per million. These residues only came to light because New Zealand continually tests for and refines testing for impurities."

“I doubt many countries test to the level we do but once DCD was verified our consumers and trading partners were notified. We take this seriously, very seriously and any suggestion otherwise is scurrilous."

“We are not hiding from genuinely informed criticism but uninformed speculation and innuendo is irresponsible. It is like yelling ‘fire’ in a packed theatre."

“The last DCD based nitrification inhibitors would have been applied in the Spring so it is most unlikely any DCD would be detected in products now coming off the production line."

Extensive testing by the processors found no traces of DCD in processed dairy products like cheese and butter.

“It is vital to remember that DCDs are considered safe and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. We are here now because there is no internationally agreed acceptable level for DCD residues meaning the default becomes the level of detection."

“DCD based nitrification inhibitors have been applied on around 500 dairy farms out of the 12,000 we have in New Zealand. They were not widespread because most farmers had adopted a wait and see attitude to see if they worked in the field."

“As farmers we know any detectable level presents a trade risk, no matter how small. Once verified the authorities and processors got on the front foot and it is concerning to see this now being criticised. “People should have no issue in consuming dairy products because farmers don’t,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment in the box on the right or click on the "'Register" link at the bottom of the comments.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current Comment policy is here.

31 Comments

What is concerned here is to

What is concerned here is to use DCD without testing its impacts on cow, milk and human health before industry level application, and without informing consumers.
A lack of international standard on a matter does not mean that it can safely used in food without exhaustive testing.

Its just a matter of trust.

Its just a matter of trust. Why wait to tell the consumer, commecial sensitivity doesn't cut it with me. What if they had been widely used, say by %70 of farmers what would the levels be then? Would fonterra have told us sooner?
What about all those hormone sprays farmers use and dont shift stock off the paddocks, so the animals digest the stuff, like to see you get a farmer to eat that grass just after its been sprayed
.  PR bull, wont wash with me.
 Is is all a matter of trust and this doesn't make me trust Fonterra.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oxr8pFCVKKM

Hey Aj - what speciffically

Hey Aj - what speciffically are the hormone sprays you are referring to?

MCPA etc

MCPA etc

What is concerned here is to

What is concerned here is to use <name yer bogey-du-jour here> without testing its impacts on rare snails, wetas, tuatara, vertebrate animals, all species of plants, and humans before industry level application, and without informing consumers.
 
 
Suggestions for bogeys are invited.  My quick and not exhaustive list:

  • Electricity
  • Penicillin
  • Amalgam dental fillings
  • Coal
  • Transistors/Silicon Chips
  • Ideas

Makes me think twice about

Makes me think twice about the 30l of milk a week we consume...
 
I find the bit that says "As farmers we know any detectable level presents a trade risk" interesting. So if something can't be detected, it's all good to do it - nobody will know about it and who cares about the consequences right (it's all about money after all, isn't it)? 

My faith in Produced in NZ is

My faith in Produced in NZ is still high.

Elley our council provided

Elley our council provided potable water supply doesn't meet WHO standards for arsenic.  It is considerably higher than recommended.  So what is the Council doing - 'oh, it will take five years before we can get a new supply going'.  Seems Councils are exempt from meeting quality standards and yet my understanding is that arsenic accumulates in the body. 
So if something can't be detected, it's all good to do it - nobody will know about it and who cares about the consequences right (it's all about money after all, isn't it)?
If it cant' be detected then it in all likelihood doesn't exist ;-)  In this particular case it isn't about money as using DCD products, in my analysis of it on scoping whether to use it on our farm, was it didn't pay financially to use it even though it was being touted as the 'environmentally right thing to do'. 

CO, following your logic

CO, following your logic Lance Armstrong's doping is a myth because it went undetected. Usually, those things come back to haunt you. So long as it's "you" it's fine, the problem is when it hurts others.
 
Not about money? All right. Then why do Fonterra not sell milk to NZers at a cheaper rate than they export it? After all, less costs (shipping etc) and even if there weren't less costs, it'd still seem to be the right thing to do to me with so many families struggling financially. The argument I've heard is that if they wanted to they could export 100% of the milk so why make less profit when they can make more. If that's not about money, what is...
 
As for the arsenic in water, I am not informed on that particular topic so all I'll say is that it does not surprise me in the least to hear it, seeing what a joke councils are.
 
Don't mean to sound rude or negative, just my unedited thoughts.
 

Mmm... not going to get in to

Mmm... not going to get in to a debate on the Lance Armstrong example Elley. ;-)
There are two very separate parts to your comment.  DCD product use by farmers I know who used it, wasn't motivated by money but by wanting to do 'the right thing' environmentally. It's use has nothing to do with the price of milk paid by consumers.  Let's not mix the two issues up.
 There are choices with regards to milk Elley.  I buy my Dairy Dale (Fonterra) milk at the local BP service station 2 x 2l for $6.50.  I could choose to pay $4.25 for 2l Anchor or $3.79 for 2l Pams at the local supermarket.  Or I could choose to buy milk powder and mix it up, which is the cheapest of all.  Milk has come down in price so how low should it go to make it affordable?
What does affordable mean anyway when it comes to food pricing?  What is an affordable price to a family of two may not be affordable to a family of eight. 
Fonterra is rolling out a 'free milk to schools' programme, but even that has it's critics, so it's damned if it does and damned if it doesn't.  It is the EPA's responsibility to oversee food safety in NZ. Yet it was Fonterra who 'blew the whistle' on finding minute residues and requested the fertilser companies withdraw their products.  So they are damned for doing something that actually was the responsibilty of someone else. Ah well, once again damned if they do, damned if they don't.  Getting kinda used to that. ;-)
 
 
 
 

I agree Co. My initial

I agree Co. My initial comments were general rather than specific to the topic at hand:
 
1. This type of stuff that "comes out" in the press makes me think about how we are treated as consumers. I'm happy to be sold a product but I expect to be told about what's in it and in the case of milk, I don't expect that much on the list of ingredients.
 
2. The world in general seems to be all about money (and power). As per post below, businesses do have to make a profit but I don't think money and making a profit should come above all else.
 

Re-the profit side of it, you

Re-the profit side of it, you are right and that's precisely my point: it is about money (speaking generally, not specifically about  the issue being discussed in the article). Private companies have to make a profit, that's the game. That's why denying it by illustrating that not using DCD in this particular case wasn't cost-effective puzzles me. 
 
In saying that,  I can't imagine, say, the French buying their wine & cheeses at the same exhorbitant prices the Brits get charged for them when France is a big producer of such products. So maybe yes, seeing that farmers use a lot of NZ land, then maybe it's just fair enough that they are "forced" to sell a tiny portion of their production to their fellow citizens, who are the ones after all ending up with the consequences of an intensive farming regime (see decreasing water quality in rivers etc).
 
As for the culture of entitlement, you're quite right, it's alive and well although I don't think NZers are the worst, far from it. You should try & see French people getting up in arms if the govt even just hints at cutting a benefit or another... And the struggle of NZ families, well I am not personnally affected so I am not in the best position to comment but reading/hearing some stories makes me wonder how things can be like this in a (so-called) developed country.  

When those NZ Citizens

When those NZ Citizens contribute something (anything!!) to that purchase or the development of the land, then perhaps they are entitled to some consideration - when farmers want work done for the land, or it's supporting business they have to pay top dollar for it.
 
Nah - they borrow my not insignificant bank deposits on the cheap - because a non-elected technocrat says they can.
 
But like the rest of us they pay the most:
 
Kiwis pay more than Brits for flights
NZ wine sells at half the price in US
Brits say NZ third dearest to visit

How did they get them "on the

How did they get them "on the cheap".
We're still paying over residental loan rates, for developed land with productive value.

 
Yes, you are right, but hopefully the RBNZ is about to address that anomaly
 
And if you do actually have "not insignificant bank deposits" and you don't want losses to the middle man for the convience of broading your risk pool and faster liquidity access, what's your lend rate % for 1M; 5yrs & 10yrs?
 
I don't normally lend to banks without a government guarantee, but Government debt yields are so low I dare not take such high levels of interest rate risk. It's a nasty and uncomfortable tradeoff between that and credit risk. I guess you fall into the latter category given that you claim a trading loss for the most recent fiscal period. Hence I decline to quote a lending rate.

 
 
 

Re-taxes paid by farmers,

Re-taxes paid by farmers, I'll just refer you here http://www.interest.co.nz/rural-news/53495/dairy-farmers-pay-lower-tax-couple-pension-ird-says-fonterra-gets-tax-credits-fair- 
 
As for my stinky body, I'd rather use my 18m pool thanks very much. Not that I don't like swimming in the river, on the contrary, but there was a notice earlier this summer not to use it due to the high level of fecal matter found there, and it wasn't human. But I agree about the dogs (let's not get into how crazy people are about them here, in particular breeds generally accepted as dangerous and the appalingly high number of maulings each year). Oh and what about all the dumb people thinking the river banks (and beaches) are just the perfect roads for their 4-wheel drives... Gotta go, enjoy the rest of your day.

 The comments about the

 The comments about the residues are correct, they are very small and present very little risk.
The detection of DCD residues though shows how disjointed our agricultural chemical approval process is in New Zealand, and this should be fixed if we wish to ensure that NZ's food supply is considered SAFE. DCD was approved by ERMA (now called the EPA) under the HSNO Act 1996 in 2006; Approval HSR002717. The HSNO Act 1996 administered by the EPA does not look at food residues and the effects on trade, if these products are used on our farms. That is the responsibility of the NZ Food Safety Authority and the ACVM Act 1997, and since the 90s products considered fertilisers are exempt from scrutiny. Farmers can apply any chemical to their fields if it is called a fertiliser as no residue studies are required, and DCD was considered to be a fertiliser additive.
We reap what we sow, and if we do not regulate we will have more chemicals detected in our food residues.
 

Don, I agree with you. EPA

Don, I agree with you. EPA should be doing it's job properly and not relying on Fonterra to do it for them. 
I have often wondered about the safety of 'natural' fertilisers being used commercially when it comes to the food chain.  Interesting that fertilisers are exempt from scrutiny. :-)
 
 
 

Kind of ironic that there are

Kind of ironic that there are issues when its a direct result of farmers trying to be more environmentally astute and trying to appease the green looneys such as the Green Party and Dr Mike Joy .
It also highlights that every action taken has a consequence no matter how worthy the intentions . Maybe Urea and planting of waterways may be best

I think the byline "N.Z food

I think the byline "N.Z food is safe and our systems work"....is in dire need of correction.
N.Z. food is as safe as the guidlines determine they should be, and within the range of the acceptable levels of unacceptable toxicity. Untill such time clinical studies find adverse affects on humans through consumption or indeed exposure to these permissable levels of unwanted toxins, we will regard the product safety guarantee to be valid to the best of our knowledge.
of course hindsight a great thing...............245T.

Were you at the Winton

Were you at the Winton meeting a few years back, CO ?
 
Someone warned that this exact thing would eventuate with this product.
 
 
 
 
 

No pdk, never been to a

No pdk, never been to a meeting in Winton. Ususally meetings down south were timed when I were back up north.
It's a bit like using Gibberellic. It has been touted as been a tool in growing grass.  It's a 'natural' plant hormone. So that makes it ok. Won't touch it myself and I know many farmers who won't. How many people buy Thompson seedless grapes from California in the NZ supermarkets?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibberellic_acid
 

That's why there is a growing

That's why there is a growing :) trend to growing your own, back to basics and locavoring.
 
At least you can control some of what you put into yourself. Doesn't help with trace DDT, and god-knows what else - but it's a start.