Deadline extended for input on kiwifruit spray ingredient

The deadline has been extended  for submissions on the potential phase-out of hydrogen cyanamide, an active ingredient in sprays commonly used by kiwifruit growers.

The original deadline of 26 November has been pushed out to 5pm on Monday 20 December.

Hydrogen cyanamide is banned in Europe, and its re-registration is currently under review in the United States.

In New Zealand, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is undertaking a reassessment of the substance, which is primarily sprayed on bare kiwifruit vines to help buds form after winter.

The latest evidence suggests the economic benefits of hydrogen cyanamide are outweighed by the environmental risks and adverse health effects to the reproductive system and thyroid.

EPA scientists have carried out an assessment of the information available and released a draft proposal for feedback. It includes a recommendation for a gradual phase-out of the use of hydrogen cyanamide, leading to a total ban in five years.

“We have had a strong response at the start of our public consultation, with more than 50 submissions received so far,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s Hazardous Substances group.

“However, the manufacturer Nufarm and kiwifruit marketer Zespri have contacted us seeking an extension, in order to fully respond. The Decision-making Committee has agreed to this request, to ensure the evidence is as complete as possible before we hold a public hearing in the new year.”

The Decision-making Committee determines the final outcome of the reassessment. This could range from maintaining the status quo, to modifications or restrictions on controls (usage rules), or revoking the approval altogether.

Hydrogen cyanamide has been used in New Zealand since 1988. It can only be applied by trained professionals in commercial settings.

There are currently six hydrogen cyanamide products registered. They are Hi-Cane, Treestart, Hortcare Hi-break, Synergy HC, Gro-Chem HC-50 and Cyan. These products are restricted to commercial use only.

In September 2019, an EPA Decision-making Committee decided that grounds exist to reassess this substance after significant new information on hazards and risks emerged in a report from the European Food Safety Authority.

Last year, the EPA opened a public call for information about hydrogen cyanamide. Since then, work has been underway to review the responses and prepare the reassessment application.

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority



Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog