Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients have both withdrawn nitrification inhibitor products from market after trace chemicals were found in Fonterra’s milk, sparking trade concerns.
Fonterra detected residues of the inhibitors’ active ingredient, DCD during routine testing of its milk – it’s believed the products have been used by around 500 dairy farmers to reduce nitrogen leaching and emissions, and to boost pasture growth.
The United States Food and Drug Administration added DCD to a list of substances to test for last year, as it is also used in the production of melamine – the compound which caused illness and death in Chinese babies when it contaminated milk power.
This lead to New Zealand testing for the compound.
Ravensdown Chief Executive, Greg Campbell, says it withdrew its Eco-N product because of the importance of trade.
The Ministry for Primary Industries says only low levels of the compound were found – and no melamine, and has set up a working group to discuss its future use.
But it says the product is thought to be positive and stable from an environmental point of view, and there are no food safety concerns.
Green party spokesperson, Steffan Browning, says the blame lies in the first instance with the government’s focus on the intensification of farming.
He says it’s time we looked at NZ farming systems as a whole.
But Federated Farmers Dairy Spokesperson, Willy Leferink, says the Green Party needs to realize that nitrates are not all a result of the intensification of farming, and says yet another tool has been taken out of farmers’ toolboxes.
Dairy NZ chief executive, Tim Mackle, says he’s disappointed the product has been suspended, and hopes pragmatic solutions can be found to enable it back on the market as soon as possible
The international food standards authority – the Codex Alimentarius Commission – is yet to release a decision on the safety of residues of DCD in food products.