NovaChem > Industry News > 2023 > Kiwifruit spray hearing now due early 2024

Kiwifruit spray hearing now due early 2024

Published on 01/08/2023

Hydrogen cyanamide is widely used in the kiwifruit industry to help buds form by simulating the effects of frost.
This type of stimulation offers
practical advantages and can profit growers. Warmer regions where kiwifruit is grown are increasingly dependent on hydrogen cyanamide in order to maintain crop viability, due to frosts becoming milder with climate change.

Six hydrogen cyanamide prod
ucts are approved for use in New Zealand. They are restricted to commercial use and can only be used by trained professionals.

The Environmental Protection
Authority began reassessing use of this substance in 2019 after identifying significant new information. The new information included regulatory action in Europe following the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) human health and environmental risk assessments.

A decision making committee
(DMC) appointed by the EPA originally set a public reassessment hearing starting 6 March 2023. This was postponed to 3-7 July due to the significant impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle on the upper North Island.

The DMC has now rescheduled
the hearing to 26 February–1March 2024, following requests from NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) and Zespri.

NZKGI said the availability of
some representatives and unforeseen circumstances meant they would be unable to meaningfully participate in the hearing process if it went ahead in July 2023. Zespri supported its request.

All submitters to the hearing
were consulted about the revised hearing date.

“We understand some people
will be disappointed with the decision to postpone the hearing, and we acknowledge that this process has taken much longer than anticipated,” says Dr Chris Hill, general manager of hazardous substances and new organisms.

“The outcome of this reassess
ment is of keen interest to many, including kiwifruit growers and the communities in which they’re based. It’s important all submitters get a chance to be heard to ensure an evidence-based decision can be made.”

When deciding whether to re
schedule the hearing, the DMC considered a range of factors, including any unfair impacts on submitters, the kiwifruit growing calendar, upcoming public holidays, and the obligation to complete the reassessment process.

Use of hydrogen cyanamide can
improve yields on green kiwifruit orchards between 28 and 60 percent, and gold yields between 25 and 50 per cent, according to NZ Kiwifruit Growers.

A report it commissioned from
the NZ Institute of Economic Research found removing hydrogen cyanamide could cost $233-$300 million in grower returns, plus a further $100 million to other associated industries.

The EPA received 202 respons
es to a public consultation on hydrogen cyanimide reassessment in late 2021. A total of 78 submitters supported the application, and 117opposed it.

The EPA received many differ
ent views from a range of interested parties, including industry organisations, iwi groups and Māori businesses, NGOs, growers and members of the public, Chris Hill says.

Concerns about water contami
nation, 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.

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