Landcare Research tested the dead rats for the chemical fluoroacetate, while the conflicting lab report claims to have tested for both fluoroacetate and fluorocitrate – which is the chemical created when 1080 is metabolised in the body.
The SMC asked a toxicologist to comment on the conflicting reports.
Dr Belinda Cridge, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Otago, comments:
“It has come to light that a second lab has completed a toxicology screen for 1080 in the rats from the West Coast. The results are in direct contrast to the reports provided by DoC earlier in the week and show the presence of 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) and its metabolite (fluorocitrate) in the samples. Having seen both reports I have several questions around the processes used in the second (positive) toxicology screen which bring the final results into question.
“Performing the test for 1080, and in particular fluorocitrate, is complicated and requires a very high degree of technical expertise. My understanding is that the laboratory at Landcare are currently the only group in New Zealand who have sufficient expertise and experience with the test to perform the analysis at short notice.
“The method used by the second lab is referenced as Pitt (2015), I couldn’t find a corresponding article for this reference. There are multiple mistakes in the method as presented which may be a simple error but it can’t currently be cross-checked. The fluorocitrate results are presented as being higher than the fluoroacetate levels which is not expected. Additionally, the report shows that the stomach contents were analysed, and there were high levels of the fluorocitrate in the stomach reported, yet conversion to fluorocitrate from fluoroacetate tends to be minimal in this organ.”
“For these reasons I am reluctant to fully support the new results until we receive a detailed description of all the methods and controls used by the second laboratory. The results that were published contain several very unusual findings which are in direct conflict with all published studies to date which means that an open and robust scientific discussion needs to take place. We need to determine why such anomalous results may have occurred and assess any further downstream implications.”
Declared conflict of interest: I am currently funded to conduct research to develop safer alternatives to 1080 and other pest control poisons. In the close network that is NZ science I am acquainted with, but have not collaborated or worked with, the team at Landcare NZ.