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Australian orchards fear new bug

21 April 2006

From Pipfruit New Zealand Incorporated

Australian orchards fear new bug

The NZ pipfruit industry reacted angrily to suggestions from Australian apple growers that the discovery of NZ wheat bug in Europe poses further risks for Australia.

“The finding of the New Zealand wheat bug (Nysius huttoni) in Holland and Belgium does not increase the likelihood the insect will be found in apple consignments to Australia” Pipfruit NZ Chief Executive Peter Beaven said in Hastings today.

“In fact our analysis points to the high probability that the wheat bugs found were not from apple exports at all. Wheat bug can only survive for short periods in coolstorage, and would not survive the journey to Europe,” Mr Beaven stated.

The incursion most probably occurred through a non chilled transport mechanism such as another commodity or by tourists.

Wheat bug is not a pest of apples but an insect found in grasslands. It is not a common ‘passenger’ in apple consignments and poses no risk in chilled transport. Additionally, export apples are washed, sorted and graded before packing and an insect such as wheat bug would be detected and removed by this process.

“The comments and concerns raised by the Australian apple industry are typical of the misinformation they have peddled throughout this whole access issue,” Mr Beaven added. “It demonstrates the level they will stoop to in order to avoid competition in their own domestic market.”

Biosecurity Australia has already addressed wheat bug in its draft IRA assisted with significant information provided by Biosecurity New Zealand.

ENDS

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