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Science should be measure for Australian Access

Media Release
February 24 2004

Science should be the measure for Australian Access

Many Australian media reports on New Zealand apple access have not been based on sound science.

Pipfruit New Zealand’s Chairman, Phil Alison was disappointed, but not surprised to see commentators using misinformation on fireblight as the main argument to challenge the possible import of New Zealand apples.

“But this emotive reaction shows a poor understanding of fireblight and a disregard for the WTO decision in late November.

“Australian growers’ fears about fireblight are totally unfounded.

“The WTO decision confirmed what leading international scientists have known for a long time. Fireblight cannot be transmitted by fruit. Mature apples are not a vector of the disease.”

“Some of the reactions we have seen over the last few days make little effort to understand the science associated with fireblight. The science is very clear – mature apples are not a vector for the spread of fireblight,” Mr Alison said.

“It is more likely that Australians will stop playing cricket than it would be for fireblight to enter Australia through trade in mature apples.”

Mr Alison also sees New Zealand apples as being complimentary trade that should not be considered a threat to Australian producers.

“New Zealand is recognised internationally as a leading apple producing country. We have a reputation for high quality and innovation, and are able to offer a suite of new varieties which we are confident will compliment the Australian production”

“We are only interested in exporting high quality fruit and we are unlikely to export more than 750,000 cartons a year,” Mr Alison said

“New Zealand has a strong, export focussed, pipfruit industry. We export 65 per cent of our total production, and export to more than 60 countries. This is despite being as far as possible from the major international markets. We do this through a successful mix of new varieties, and a commitment to food safety and quality.”

Mr Alison encourages commentators to base their arguments on science, not emotion, as the measure for determining the risk associated with the import of New Zealand apples.

Ends

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