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Aged Pilot, Aged Plane, Aged Biosecurity strategy

An Aged Pilot, An Aged Plane, For an Aged Biosecurity Strategy

Helen Wiseman-Dare, Chairperson, West Aucklanders Against Aerial Spraying, today questioned whether a 71 year old should be in charge of the controls of the Fokker aircraft being used by MAF for aerial spraying operations conducted at such a low altitude over people's homes.

Residents have reported that the plane flies so low that their roofs rattle. Some are concerned for their safety knowing a 71 year old is in charge of the aeroplane and say a person of that age wouldn't be entrusted to operate machinery in a factory.

Helen Wiseman-Dare said that the practice of pest eradication by wholesale aerial spraying of urban populations is a strategy that belongs in the last century. Organisations such as HortResearch, Forest Research and Landcare Research are making increasing use of safe, non toxic biological controls to control everything from gorse to forestry defoliating beetles.

But none of these methods of the future are being employed to combat the Painted Apple Moth, in spite of various biological controls having already been found to have an effect on the moth. Biological control methods are made use of overseas to control other moth populations.

Growers are moving towards sustainable forests and horticulture using a minimum of spraying. MAF now seems more concerned about spraying forests with chemicals than it does about spraying over people.

Urgent work needs to be done on fast tracking pheromone based products through ERMA and working on bio-control programmes for the Painted Apple Moth instead of fast tracking yet more Btk varieties for yet further aerial spraying programmes.

Questions need to be asked as to why MAF are continuing with an eradication programme which is causing such immense suffering and disruption to the lives of so many when the chances of eradication have been put at only 60-80%. Infestations are still being found in areas which have had almost a year's worth of aerial spraying plus weekly ground spraying. An urgent change of strategy is needed.

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