Environmental Protection Authority -New Zealand

Public and industry views on kiwifruit spray released

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has released a summary report of submissions about hydrogen cyanamide, a key chemical used in the kiwifruit industry. Hydrogen cyanamide is widely used in the kiwifruit industry to help buds form by simulating the effects of frost. It is less commonly applied to apple, cherry, apricot, and kiwiberry crops, and is a component of a widely used product called Hi-Cane.

The EPA is currently reassessing the use of hydrogen cyanamide, in the wake of significant new scientific data and risk assessments completed by overseas regulators.

The report summarises submissions from a public consultation on hydrogen cyanamide, which was held from 30 September 2021 to 20 December 2021. The EPA received 202 responses, with 43 of those submitters indicating they want to speak at a public hearing in March 2023.

"The EPA received many different views from a range of interested parties, including industry organisations, iwi groups and Māori businesses, NGOs, growers and members of the public," says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms.

Concerns about water contamination, the effects on animals, and the impact on human health for those in communities where spraying occurs were among the issues raised.

Submissions supporting its use included the view that hydrogen cyanamide is the only reliable and cost-effective option available, with some submitters saying many orchards would become unprofitable without it.

Submitters also noted the spray has enabled orchards to be successful in rural areas with less favourable climates, and the positive effect this has had on Māori growers.

Prominent kiwifruit industry organisations discussed alternative products not containing hydrogen cyanamide, but ruled them out as significantly less effective than hydrogen cyanamide.

"The summary report we have produced only reflects the information and opinions provided by people who voluntarily provided a response to the public consultation," says Dr Hill. "The next step is for the decision-making committee to consider the summary report and each submission alongside all other material provided, as part of our robust reassessment process."

EPA scientists will review the technical information in the submissions and additional documents, including results from research by key companies in the kiwifruit industry.

Submitters who indicated they wish to be heard will be invited to speak to their submission at the hearing.

For more information:
Tel.: +64 0800 225 537

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