NZ study first in world to find common herbicides cause antibiotic resistance

The active ingredients in a list of commonly used herbicides, including Roundup used by most New Zealand local governments for weed control, has been shown to cause antibiotic resistance, a world-first Kiwi study has found.

New University of Canterbury research has confirmed the active ingredients in RoundUp, Kamba and 2,4-D (glyphosate, dicamba and 2,4-D, respectively) can cause bacteria to alter how susceptible they are to antibiotics.

University of Canterbury molecular biology and genetics Professor Jack Heinemann said the herbicides studied are three of the most commonly used in the world, including New Zealand.

"They are among the most common manufactured chemical products to which people, pets and livestock in both rural and urban environments are exposed," Professor Heinemann said.

"These products are sold in the local hardware store and may be used without training, and there are no controls that prevent children and pets from being exposed in home gardens or parks.

"Despite their ubiquitous use, this University of Canterbury research is the first in the world to demonstrate that herbicides may be undermining the use of a fundamental medicine-antibiotics."

The new paper led by University of Canterbury researchers also found ingredients that are regularly used in some herbicide formulations, and processed foods, also cause antibiotic resistance.

"More emphasis needs to be placed on antibiotic stewardship compared to new antibiotic discovery. Otherwise, new drugs will fail rapidly and be lost to humanity," Professor Heinemann said. 

Professor Heinemann says antibiotic resistance has caused nearly a million additional deaths worldwide from infectious diseases.

"The United States, for example, estimates that more than two million people are sickened every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, with at least 23,000 dying as a result.

"By 2050, resistance is estimated to add 10 million annual deaths globally with a cumulative cost to the world economy of US$100 trillion. In other words, roughly twice the population of New Zealand will be lost annually to antibiotic resistance."

A group of scientists say taking antibiotics longer than necessary is adding to the problem of superbugs.
Source: 1 NEWS

Price of butter hits record high as latest Food Price Index released

Dairy prices have pushed the cost of butter up a massive 62 per cent in just the last year, with the flow on effect having the potential to impact Kiwi's favourite bakery goods. 

Stats New Zealand released the latest Food Price Index, showing food prices rising 2.7 per cent in the year to October 2017, following a three per cent increase in the year to September 2017.

The price of butter has continued to soar in another record breaking increase, with the average price of the cheapest 500g block now costing $5.67, up from the previous record of $5.55 in September 2017.

A block of butter sat at $3.50 this time last year. 

"Dairy products are very widely used inputs in a number of food items," consumers price index manager Matthew Haigh said.

"The effects of price rises flow on to products such as takeaway biscuits, buns, cakes and coffee, and eating out for lunch and dinner, all of which saw increases in the year to October 2017."

Milk rose 7.5 per cent and cheese went up by 12 per cent. 

But it's not all bad news, the monthly food price fell by 1.1 per cent as seasonal fruit and vegetables decreased by 6.8 per cent, and 1.3 per cent after seasonal adjustment. 

"Although fruit and vegetable prices have dropped this month, the impact of bad weather earlier in the year continues to cause higher prices compared with this time last year," Mr Haigh said.


The cheapest 500g block was $3.32 12 months ago, now it's $5.39.
Source: 1 NEWS


'Goodbye to our bees' - DOC spraying herbicide on Auckland maunga in suburb which paid $50K to be chemical free

An historic Auckland maunga is being sprayed with chemical herbicides to the dismay of surrounding residents who paid $50,000 in rates to keep their parks and reserves chemical free.

The chemical weed spraying measures are being undertaken on North Head mountain in Devonport, on Auckland’s North Shore, which is an historic battlement containing barracks, tunnels and gun emplacements, dating back to 1885.

North Head, otherwise known as Maungauika, is under the management of the Department of Conservation (DOC), who rent offices there, and for the duration of November will be spraying glyphosate, commercially known as Roundup, to combat kikuyu grass.

However, this chemical spraying flies in the face of an initiative which the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board region signed up to last year to pay Auckland Council $50,000 to not use chemical weed sprays in their local board region.

Department of Conservation sign on the North Head entrance gates notifying of the November chemical weed spraying. Source: 1 NEWS

The catch is, the North Head maunga does not fit under the jurisdiction of Auckland Council, and the DOC can spray chemical weed sprays on North Head if they choose.

Devonport locals irritated

Local residents on the Devonport Locals Facebook Group are suspicious and irritated about the practice.

"Always was chemical free in Devonport. Growl - naughty DOC," Gail Ferrif Griffin wrote.

"DOC seem to have a problem with chemical abuse!" Ian Haley wrote.

"I think DOC has been very unrespectful," Ann Allen wrote

"GOODBYE TO OUR BEES THEN," Ian Charles Patrick Story wrote.

DOC Auckland mainland operations manager Kirsty Prior said they were aware the Takapuna-Devonport Local Board has a policy of using non-toxic weed control methods, but the spraying only occurred a "handful of days each year".

Ms Prior said DOC sprayed narrow strips of grass along the road and around historic structures.

"To ensure the spray does not drift, the applicator nozzle is aimed directly at the grass and kept within 15 centimetres of the grass," Ms Prior said.

"Spraying is stopped if the wind rises above 15 kilometres an hour. We do not spray if there are a lot of people on the maunga.'

Gun emplacements on North Head mountain which served as defence lookout during WWII. Source: 1 NEWS

"DOC has used a non-toxic pine based herbicide for this work in the past but it was not as effective. DOC is now trialling another plant-based herbicide for this work."

Despite this trial, a sign on the entrance to North Head, identified Glyphosate as one of the chemicals being used - which in 2015 the World Health Organization said "probably" has the potential to cause cancer in humans.

DOC in a 'difficult position'

Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chair Grant Gillon said he understood residents concerns, but the DOC was in a "difficult position" with the spraying.

"People are unhappy about it, that's true, but I also know DOC get a lot of criticism about seed heads blowing down to private property and then onto beaches and reserves that are right across the road, they've always been in a difficult position and will get criticised one way or another," Mr Gillon said.

"We work as much as we can with DOC recognising they've got a professional approach to this, and also they are facing immense pressure with a lot of weed seed heads at this time of year."

DOC will be spraying AGPRO Terminate herbicide, containing chemicals glyphosate and terbuthylazine until November 30.

In November 2016, five of Auckland's 21 local boards spent $50,000 from their own budget to use mechanical gardening equipment instead of glyphosate. 

In October 2017, Auckland Council passed a motion that local boards could request there be no chemical spraying around children's parks and playgrounds, provided they also pay for it.

Also in October this year a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found levels of glyphosate in human urine had increased by around 500 per cent over 23 years.

And today, New University of Canterbury research confirms the active ingredients of the commonly used herbicides, RoundUp, Kamba and 2,4-D (glyphosate, dicamba and 2,4-D, respectively), each alone cause antibiotic resistance at concentrations well below label application rates.

The view from North Head mountain overlooking the suburb of Devonport, and Waitemata Harbour, at sunset. Source: 1 NEWS