“It is astounding that no−one has done any research on the effects of sub−lethal doses of 1080 episodic exposures on developing human and non−human brains, given the fact, that 1080 is a known brain or central nervous system toxin!”
Dr Peter Scanlon
The article from mainstream in 2009 mentioned in the headline, rolls out the usual statements of ‘the benefits outweigh the risks’ or ‘there’s little evidence 1080 could harm pregnant women’, without producing a shred of data to prove these claims to the public. That could be because there really aren’t any according to the late Dr Peter Scanlon who asked the pertinent questions on 1080 research, or rather the lack thereof, quote:
“Where are the cancer causing or carcinogenicity studies? … there aren’t any;
Where are the reproductive studies, particularly focusing on female eggs? … there aren’t any;
Where are the developmental studies, early exposure to brain, immune system? … there aren’t any;
Where are the long term chronic exposure studies looking at mitochondrial DNA content and mutation rates? there aren’t any.
There’s a lot of doubts about this substance, it’s dangerous.”
Hear Dr Scanlon speak on the need for regulatory bodies to look at those age groups that are most vulnerable to chemical environmental exposure which can affect them in those growing periods. The periods he says when there are critical windows of much harm being done in the womb, foetuses, embryos, newborns and how exposure here in this early time of life, can lead to great harm & susceptibility to disease years or decades later. Watch the GrafBoys’ video below. Dr Scanlon speaks in the first half of the video.
So the midwives’ precautionary warnings to their patients were well founded.
Further read Dr Scanlon’s letter of submission cautioning about the potential risks from 1080 to the unborn (my emphases added) and also the risks to food & water:
Dr Peter Scanlon,
2 Bremworth Ave,
Dear Select Committee members,
I would suggest that you request scientifically referenced answers to some important questions in relation to the human safety of aerial 1080 (or sodium monofluoracetate/SMFA) drops in New Zealand or invoke the precautionary principle until such information is provided. With respect to potential human health risks the ERMA process was inadequate and often based on outdated and simplistic 19th and mid− 20th century level science involving animal studies that will not predict human risk, particularly in the most vulnerable populations. Any 19th or earlier century scientist could tell you what dose of 1080 would likely kill or be acutely toxic to human or non− human creatures. However no one can tell me or you for that matter, what sub−lethal dose will not have long−term negative health effects on the developing brain, immune, dental, endocrine and reproductive systems in embryos, newborns and young children using late 20th and early 21st century methods to access harm, especially changes to gene expression that may lead to disease later in life.
Early developmental exposures may lead to life−long problems and some may be analogous to the “leaky home” phenomena, where problems only manifest with time, hence long−term developmental studies are needed to exclude this possibility. I alerted ERMA of the 2007 International Conference on Fetal Programming and Developmental Toxicity which produced a very important statement (The Faroes Statement) for regulatory bodies to incorporate specific testing for early life environmental chemical exposures for risk assessment which was ignored. Could you please provide an impartial answer to a question posed by Independent MP Gordon Copeland in 2008 ” Does 1080 pose a risk to the health of unborn children?”
A concerned Māori woman contacted me and presented to the Waitangi Tribunal evidence for the Whanganui Inquiry last year her concerns that 1080 may have been implicated in causing a cluster of miscarriages, stillbirths and congenital malformations to the children of pregnant Māori women following aerial drops and raised the question of bowel cancer in some adult Māori being possibly linked to environmental 1080 exposures through contaminated food and water sources.
The current scientific gaps which the ERMA 2007 reassessment failed to address and assumptions based on outdated or poorly studied science for human risk considerations cannot exclude the possibility of 1080 having such adverse health effects in Whanganui or other NZ rural communities. The current medical system cannot easily investigate such concerns. In following an ERMA directive, recent NZ studies have found maximal levels of 1080 in puha & watercress to contain, respectively 15 and 63 parts per billion, and on the basis of these figures it has been calculated that a 70kg person would have to eat 9.3 tonnes of affected puha & 22 tonnes of affected watercress to have a 50% chance of dying from 1080 poisoning. Sadly that gives absolutely no safety reassurances for the many pregnant women or those with chronic medical conditions such as kidney, heart or liver disease, who enjoy such kai, or the common practice of Maori parents who mix mashed puha or watercress with pumpkin or kumara for the feeding of their infants. Non−toxic, low dose 1080 will not pose a risk for healthy adults but the current environmental food & water risks are in the ballpark levels that could especially harm our youngest & most vulnerable children. What 1080 amount will not affect their growing bodies, especially their developing brains? What level may cause a miscarriage? It is astounding that no−one has done any research on the effects of sub−lethal doses of 1080 episodic exposures on developing human and non−human brains, given the fact, that 1080 is a known brain or central nervous system toxin! And the brain function is intimately connected with immune and endocrine function. One Pirongia mother has raised this issue of developmental delay and other health issues in her children from possible low level water contamination during pregnancy in a well written ERMA submission. The studies for which the Ministry of Health based their provisional maximal acceptable levels of 1080 for drinking water ( 3.5 parts per billion) did not include neurotoxicity data, nor does Natalia Forunda’s University of Otago’s 2007 PhD
recommended level of 0.6 ( zero point six) parts per billion. I believe if developmental data, including fetal & young infant brain data were included, given the extreme vulnerability of this age group, that a much lower Maximal Acceptable Value for drinking water would be mandated. The limits of reported testing for 1080 is 0.1 ( zero point one) part per billion, so if one looked at the most vulnerable human groups, unborn and young children, levels under this, which the current test would record as zero, could still pose a human health risk. No aerial drops should occur near drinking water until this risk has been excluded and long−term neuro−developmental (i.e. behavior & brain function), immune, metabolic and reproductive outcomes for early life exposures have been scientifically accessed.
The finding of naturally occurring levels of SMFA being present in drinking tea at higher levels than the provisional maximal acceptable values for potable water, hence implying safety, is irrelevant for early unborn exposures. Some recent studies have linked tea− consumption during pregnancy to increased risks of brain tumours, leukaemia, dental fluorosis in the child as well as an increased risk of pre−eclampsia in the mother. Laboratory eel studies have shown 1080 levels of 17.4 parts per billion for those eels that consumed contaminated possum muscle and 30.6 parts per billion that ate contaminated possum gut. 1080 is slowly metabolized in eels. Are eels contaminating the food chain?
Will NIWA provide 1080 contaminant monitoring for local consumers of 1080 levels in eels after aerial drops and also measure other possible contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticide residues and toxins in them, that may have negative additive human health effects?
The ERMA scientific advisors decided that no studies were needed to be done to see if 1080 causes cancer on the basis that 1080 did not cause DNA mutations using traditional types of screening tests which are now being questioned in the cancer literature for their usefulness in predicting cancer risk given the rapid advances in the past few years in studying non−mutagenic causes of cancer. For instance, one of the energy−producing enzymes that 1080 inactivates, aconitase, has recently be found to have a role in regulating and protecting mitochondrial DNA from mutating. 1080 affects the sausage shaped cellular structures called mitochondria. Human cells contain 2 sources of DNA, namely nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. The possible effect of 1080 causing mitochondrial DNA mutations has simply not been accessed. Another enzyme that 1080 interferes with also has been linked with a certain type of cancer. Also, sub−lethal effects of 1080 impairing energy production needs to researched as defects in mitochondrial functioning has been recently found to play an important role in the initiation and/or progression of various types of cancer, including colorectal cancer Having recently met the daughter of one of the early 1080 aerial operation users and discovered her father died ” too early” with Bowel Cancer− the lack of any carcinogenicity studies in light of recent developments is simply inexcusable. Furthermore, damage to mitochondrial DNA has recently been shown to be involved in causing common diseases besides cancer such as heart disease, obesity & degenerative brain disorders, including dementia. Long−term studies on those working with this chemical or any individual with chronic medical conditions such as kidney impairment, diabetes, liver disease or heart disease that consumes possible 1080 contaminated foods should be accessed for progressive mitochondrial toxicity and for effects on mitochondrial DNA.
The 1080 chronic intoxication study of an occupationally exposed rabbiter −exposed over 10 years, was published in the NZ Medical Journal in 1977, and was ignored by ERMA mainly because the Christchurch doctors who trustingly sent a urine specimen to a certain Forest Research Institute scientist to measure the 1080 contained in it, who gave them a 1080 measurement in writing, later denied that he had in fact measured 1080. The more recent Sept 2009 NZ Medical Journal research on 1080 assessment of occupational exposures by Beasley and colleagues failed to even acknowledge or learn from this former paper yet they did admit how little they know about 1080 interactions with the human body. It was the similar structural toxicity appearances in the liver and kidney cells from the rabbiter’s specimen’s to morphological or structural states in 1080 experimental animals that lead Parkin and colleagues, to consider 1080 as the most likely cause of toxicity. They used electron microscopy performed on kidney biopsies taken from the rabbiter which showed changes that most likely represented degenerating mitochondria, hence the need to look for evidence of mitochondrial pathology such as tissue biopsies, or look for changes in mitochondrial DNA levels using techniques as have been used for monitoring HIV drug−induced mitochondrial toxicity, or check for mitochondrial DNA mutations and not just focus on 1080 level measurements. The reason New Zealand Medical Officers of Health report no concerns with 1080 is that they have failed to do the appropriate diagnostic investigations just mentioned, and the following adage applies to them−”If you don’t know what to look for, then you probably won’t find it”. 30 yrs later we still have no decent chronic toxicity human data or really understand the human kinetics of this chemical in healthy adults, let alone those with any concurrent chronic illnesses and most significantly Beasley and colleagues failed to do any measures of mitochondrial toxicity from this mitochondrial interfering toxin, hence we are none the wiser about its safety.
Given the “scientific ignorance” of those who proclaim human safety when doing aerial drops near water supplies in the West Coast, Whanganui, Coromandel, Levin, Hutt Valley and other regions of New Zealand and the real lack of safety data, especially for NZ’s most vulnerable human populations, our unborn, young and old and those with chronic illnesses, one really must question whether it is ethical to use such a poorly studied chemical from a human health risk perspective. The native flora and fauna are replaceable. TB ridden cows are replaceable but the future health of our children and our most vulnerable is not.
” I nga wa o mua” − The past informs the present.
” Foresight should be sought as hindsight is dearly bought”
Dr Peter Scanlon (Accident & Medical Practitioner)
M.B.ChB.. B.H B., P.G.DipCEM.. B.Sc.. F. AMPA