New Zealand Dairy Farmers Fight Threat to Poison Baby Formula Over Pesticide Dispute

An anonymous author has threatened to contaminate baby formula with 1080, a pesticide with a difficult history in New Zealand

Authorities believe the threat to be entirely baseless, but have tightened quality control of dairy and other milk products. 

Police in New Zealand have revealed details of a major investigation, underway since November, to locate the source of extortion threats against the farming giant Fonterra and the organization of Federated Farmers, reports the BBC.

Sent anonymously, letters to these groups detailed threats to poison the country’s baby formula supply if they did not stop using the pesticide known as 1080 in agricultural production by the end of March. The letters threatened to contaminate infant formula with the pesticide itself, and were delivered with packages of milk powder that tested positive for pesticide 1080.

In response, the government has tightened control over its dairy supply chains, and has conducted approximately 40,000 tests on a number of milk formula products. Thus far, there have been no traces of pesticide 1080 detected in formula.

As a precaution, a number of markets have removed baby formula from their shelves, despite assurances from the New Zealand government that the formula is safe.

Furthermore, though officials suspect the threats to be a thoughtless hoax, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has nonetheless denounced the threats as a “form of ecoterrorism.”


In a statement, Fonterra sought to assure its customers that “all of our milk and products are safe and of high quality, and our supply chain continues to be secure and world-class.”