EPA approves first methane inhibitor in New Zealand

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved a feed additive to educe methane emissions in livestock.

DSM Nutritional Products Ltd (DSM) applied to import or manufacture a substance containing 10-25% of 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) – a chemical that is new to New Zealand.

DSM says 3-NOP can reduce methane emissions from ruminant animals, including cows, sheep and goats, by 30 per cent.

“Substances for climate change mitigation are still new to New Zealand and are important for meeting New Zealand’s international obligations under climate agreements,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms.

“This is the country’s first application for a methane inhibitor, so it was important to confirm how 3-NOP would be used and the information we required to carry out an appropriate risk assessment.

“We carry out a comprehensive assessment for every hazardous substance application. Our assessments are focused on scientific data and evidence, economic information, and local information, as well as cultural perspectives to ensure we continue to protect people and our environment.

“To ensure this was a robust assessment, the application was subject to a number of requests for additional information. DSM also put the application on hold for around eight months, so they could compile further information for the risk assessment process.”

In concentrated forms, 3-NOP can pose significant risks to people and the EPA has put in place rules for safely using the substance.

This application does not cover lower concentrations of 3-NOP likely to be added in the final products used in agriculture or by farmers, and some formulations may require separate EPA approval.

The EPA is working closely with MPI on the regulation of methane (and nitrogen) inhibitors, with the aim of streamlining the EPA’s application and assessment process for these substances.

Under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, the EPA is responsible for the assessment of risks to human health and the environment.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is responsible for assessing efficacy, animal welfare, the potential for residues in food, and risks to trade in primary produce. They have yet to receive an application from DSM.

Read more about the 3-NOP application and decision HERE.

Application timeline:

– In February 2021, the EPA formally received an application from DSM for 3-NOP and began working on a risk assessment.

– The EPA determined the initial hazard classifications for multiple concentrations of 3-NOP and this was shared with DSM.

– In April 2021, the EPA held meetings and discussions with the applicant on a range of technical and procedural matters. This produced additional information for assessment.

– In August 2021, DSM put the application on hold while they compiled further information for a lower hazard classification for 3-NOP than the EPA initially recommended.

– In March 2022, the EPA received this information and asked for further clarifications about the application. We also completed a Māori Impact Assessment.

– The applicant subsequently revised the scope of their application, and the EPA included this information in its risk assessment.

– In June 2023, the EPA shared its science memo, staff report, and Māori Impact Assessment with DSM to review and comment on before the application was submitted for consideration by the delegated decision maker.

– The application was decided on 31 July 2023.

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority


Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog