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Compound 1080

Picture of 1080 tin

 

"Sodium fluoroacetate is highly toxic to warm blooded animals, including humans, when taken internally. Additionally, sodium fluoroacetate may pose a high acute risk to non-target birds and mammals that may scavenge the carcasses" - USA EPA - Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) Sodium Fluroacetate, Sep 1995

 

Fluroacetate is a naturally occurring poison existing in a number of plants across Australia, Brazil and Africa. In Australia, these are members of the Gastrolobium genus - "poison peas", growing widely across the south west of Western Australia and in some areas further north. Two species are also found in NT and QLD. Some animals that have evolved in these areas, such as possums, bush rats and western grey kangaroos may eat these peas and not die. However, native animals that have not evolved in these areas have no resistance what-so-ever.

Gastrolobium Calycinum - "York Road Poison" Location where grows

Gastrolobium calycinum
Photos courtesy Australian Native Plants Society (Aust)

 

Fluroacetate, however, is not the same as Compound 1080, sodium monofluroacetate. There is no known natural form of Compound 1080. Saying fluroacetate is the same as sodium monofluroacetate is like saying chlorine is the same as table salt (sodium-chloride). It is a totally different compound with very different properties and levels of toxicity.

 

Compound Chemical Formula

Compound 1080
Sodium Monofluoroacetate

CH2FCOONa

Fluroacetate
(Gastrolobium Genus)

CH2FCOO-

Dichapetalum cymosum (South Africa), reported to be potassium fluoroacetate.

CH2FCOOK

 

"Press and popular articles, written for public information and reassurance, do not make the distinction.... There has been ambiguity in the use of the statement that manufactured 1080 is the same chemical as a naturally occurring compound, which has misled the public. This needs to be acknowledged to the public" - ML Jarman


Indeed, 1080 is used to kill possums in New Zealand and in May 2005, thousands of wallabies on King Island were killed with baited carrots. Furthermore, in the case of dingoes, dingoes are not herbivores, so regardless of whether 1080 is a naturally occurring plant substance, the eating of concentrated doses in baits causes them to die - very slowly and painfully.

Synthesis of fluroacetic acid was first reported in 1896 by Belgium researchers. It was later patented in the 1930s, Germany, as a mothproofing agent. The Nazis experimented with 1080, both as potential chemical warfare agents and as systemic insecticides. (USA EPA, RED Sodium Fluroacetate, P.5). In America, 1948, Monsanto was producing 5 tonnes of 1080. In 1955, this manufacturing process was transferred to Tull Chemical Company. In 1970, Tull was the only company producing 1080. Shortly after, President Nixon issued an executive order banning the use of 1080 in America. 1080 has been recently allowed again there, through the use of protective livestock collars - aerial baiting is still largely prohibited.

 

Picture of Nazi party Eagle
Both the Nazis and Saddam Hussein experimented with Compound 1080 as a potential chemical warefare agent.

 

According to released CIA reports, 1080 was the only "weapon of mass destruction" found in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, found with lab notes detailing experimentations. Ironically, this weapon of mass destruction had been manufactured by the Americans themselves, Tull Chemicals.

Compound 1080 and M-44 Sodium Cyanide are `called "super poisons" by the FBI, and have been cited as lethal toxins likely to be used by terrorists to harm Americans' - US Congressman Peter DeFazio

In Australia, there have been numerous cases of Compound 1080 found in public areas in cities, with the intention of deliberately killing pets. How such a lethal poison can be thrown around so easily without any accountability must raise serious questions. Furthermore, some councils such as Bundaberg Regional Council actually hand out free bags of poisoned meat - it is unknown what, if any, accountability measures are put in place to protect the public, wildlife and pets.

 

1080 Sign in Australia

Label used in Australia notifying of 1080 use

Compound 1080 has been in use in Australia since the 1950s where it was used primarily for rodent, rabbit and fox control. These days it is also used to bait dingoes, domestic dogs gone feral and feral cats. However, considering Australia is using more 1080 than ever and fox, feral cat and wild dog numbers are exploding, one would seriously have to question the effectiveness of 1080 baiting.

The unfortunate side effect is the tremendous loss to our wildlife - either directly or through secondary poisoning. Dingoes and birds of prey may eat the baits. Scavengers - the Tasmanian Devil, Dingoes, lizards, earthworms, many birds - crows, ravens, eagles, hawks, etc, eat dead carcasses and die an agonizing prolonged death. It is for this reason the WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines stipulate that dead carcasses should be burnt or buried within 24 hours of dying. This is not done in Australia where carcasses are left to rot forever.

"1.4.4 Unintended effects: very toxic to birds, domestic animals and wildlife. High risk of secondary poisoning to carnivorous and omnivorous species from eating poisoned carcasses." - WHO Data Sheet - Sodium Fluroacetate.

 

A 2014 study by researchers from Murdoch University monitored seven sites over a nine month period which utilised 1080 baits intended for fox control. 95% of the baits were consumed by native animals. The remaining 5% were consumed by pigs and rats with only 1 bait taken by a fox, despite many foxes in the areas.

In New Zealand, 1080 is used to kill wild possums and deer, devastating the wild meat ("game") market, costing trappers millions of dollars of contracts. Consumers want assurances their food has not been tainted by this poison - an assurance that can't be given. Furthermore, campaigns aimed at trying to save the endangered kea bird by eradicating rodents with 1080 have unfortunately resulted in many kea deaths.

In October 2014, trout in New Zealand rivers showed levels of Compound 1080 "significantly higher than recognised food safety guidelines". This poison, now proven to have entered the food chain, has resulted in people being advised not to eat fish caught in New Zealand rivers. This evidence is in stark contrast to the official (and continuing) NZ Govt viewpoint that 1080 is safe, is biodegradable and doesn't enter the food chain. Despite this evidence, the New Zealand Dept of Conservation (DOC) still refuses to accept their own food test results, continuing to dump even more 1080.

Cartoon depicting New Zealand's "Clean Green" image

Australia and New Zealand use almost 95% of the world's supply of 1080. It is rated a category 1 poison by the WHO - their most toxic category, with no known antidote. Many farmers also lose working dogs to this poison.

Animal welfare groups around the world, the RSPCA, PETA, Humane Society International, Predator Defense Network all state 1080 is cruel and inhuman. "This suffering is so unacceptably intense that Compound 1080 should be prohibited" - Humane Society.

 

Hole in Ozone Layer

1080 produces hydrocarbons, increasing the
size of the ozone hole

 

There is also much controversy as to the biodegradability of the product. Proponents of 1080 claim it breaks down relatively quickly, others say not. Regardless of when it does actually break down:

"The carbon-carbon bond in the sodium mono-fluoroacetate molecule is less stable (weaker) than the carbon-fluorine bond, and so over time and with hydration (adding H2O), sunlight can break the bond down, and the molecule can degrade into sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3-) and methyl fluoride (CH3F).... Methyl fluoride is a volatile fluoro-hydrocarbon which ... contributes to the ozone hole" - ML Jarman

 

 

World Bannings

1970 - Banned in USA (although recently allowed under strict circumstances. Aerial baiting remains banned)

1982 - Banned in Brazil

2003 - Banned in Laos, Belize, Slovania, Cuba, Thailand

2009 - Banned in Tasmania (state of Australia). 2014 ban lifted.

Currently registered for use in only: Australia, Canada, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, US.

 

 

References & Info: