The product - Eco-N - was developed by Lincoln researchers (led by Prof's Hong Di and Keith Cameron) has been withdrawn by Ravensdown after concerns were raised by foreign markets that the compound around which the IP was wrapped - Dicyandiamide (DCP) - was finding its way into the milk supply.
Staff received an email from the VC's office and links to a couple of press releases, one from Ravensdown (part-owner of the rights to Eco-N) and another from MPI. For MPI, the 'crux' of the issue is the lack of internationally set standards for DCD residues in the food chain: "This is because DCD has not been considered to have any impact on food safety."
Perception, of course, is everything in the premium food stakes we're NZ Inc. has staked its claim. The Wall Street Journal asks 'Is New Zealand milk safe to drink?'...
Talk in the LU staff club was around the products up-take by farmers (500 are claimed, only about 5% of the total NZ dairy estate), and efficacy. One wag said it was less effective the further you got from Lincoln campus...Researcher commissioned by Ravensdown, undertaken by Doug Edmeades, found it had 'little effect' on pasture production. And while a 'positive effect on reducing soil nitrates' was found 'but by how much is still is unknown.'
There was talk of 'commercial sensitivity' and dodgy oversight. Fonterra has known for sometime and sat on the knowledge until they floated their wee shareholder scheme. Lincoln also lost out on a major collaborative strategy with Dairy NZ to Auckland. Small country, everyone knows someone.
As a social scientist, and one with a hankering for more Actor-Network Theory ops, this is a great case study. They need some extra arrows...
As an employee of Lincoln University, I see a hit to our credibility that may ripple on for sometime yet.