A threat to contaminate infant milk formula with 1080 was a business ploy to drive sales of a competitor possum poison, the Crown says.
Businessman Jeremy Hamish Kerr, 60, appeared in the High Court at Auckland on Monday after pleading guilty to two counts of attempted blackmail.
Police revealed in March 2015 that Fonterra and Federated Farmers had received threatening letters, along with milk packages that tested positive for the poison.
The letters threatened to contaminate infant formula and other products if New Zealand did not cease to use the poison. It also threatened to disclose the matter publicly.
Kerr, who developed a rival product to 1080 – the cyanide-based poison Feratox, pleaded guilty in December.
His actions might have ended up costing New Zealand hundreds of millions of dollars in lost exports. Plus there was the huge cost of the investigation and safety precautions. He should face a long prison sentence.
I’m tempted to say that what he did is even worse than if someone did this for political reasons – ie at least they were doing it for something they believed in, rather than to profit from it. But in the end either motivation is despicable and selfish so equally bad I’d say.