New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved a feed additive to reduce methane emissions in livestock.

Dutch State Mines Nutritional Products Ltd (DSM) applied to import or manufacture a substance containing 10-25% of 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) – a chemical that is new to New Zealand.

DSM has claimed that 3-NOP can reduce methane emissions from ruminant animals including cows, sheep and goats, by 30%.

Under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, the EPA is responsible for the assessment of risks to human health and the environment.

In concentrated forms, 3-NOP can pose significant risks to people and the EPA said it has put in place rules for safely using the substance.

The final products used in agriculture or by farmers are likely to incorporate lower concentrations of 3-NOP. 

Methane inhibitor

Dr. Chris Hill, the EPA’s general manager of hazardous substances and new organisms, said that substances for climate change mitigation are still new to New Zealand.

But he added that they “are important for meeting New Zealand’s international obligations under climate agreements”.

“This is the country’s first application for a methane inhibitor, so it was important to confirm how 3-NOP would be used and the information we required to carry out an appropriate risk assessment.

“We carry out a comprehensive assessment for every hazardous substance application. Our assessments are focused on scientific data and evidence, economic information, and local information, as well as cultural perspectives to ensure we continue to protect people and our environment,” Dr Hill added.

He also said this also involved a “robust assessment”.

“The application was subject to a number of requests for additional information.

“DSM also put the application on hold for around eight months, so they could compile further information for the risk assessment process,” Dr Hill said.

The EPA is now working closely with New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) which is responsible for assessing efficacy, animal welfare, the potential for residues in food, and risks to trade in primary produce.

The two bodies are collaborating on the regulation of methane and nitrogen inhibitors and streamlining the application and assessment process.