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Pork Industry Board welcomes Beekeepers’ win

Media Release For Immediate Release 05 December 2007

Pork Industry Board welcomes Beekeepers’ win

The Court of Appeal has upheld the Beekeepers’ case that it is unlawful for MAF to allow new organisms across the border. It affirms that the only body with power to approve the introduction of new organisms to New Zealand is ERMA.

This decision is welcomed by the New Zealand Pork Industry Board which is currently greatly concerned about a MAF proposal that would knowingly allow the introduction into New Zealand of a new organism, the PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome) virus in imported pigmeat. New Zealand is one of very few countries free of PRRS, a devastating pig disease which is recognized as the number one enemy of the pig industry worldwide.

“We fully endorse this decision which we believe emphasizes that a more appropriate level of caution should be applied to decisions impacting on New Zealand’s biosecurity status” says Chris Trengrove, New Zealand Pork Industry Board Chairman. “Most unfortunately the PRRS proposal put forward by MAF has been biased by trade considerations – both MAF and the Minister have said as much. Currently there is no independent review step at any stage in the MAF process and such a step is definitely needed. Without an independent review step it means that MAF is effectively marking its own work”.

Parliament established ERMA as a specialist body to consider the environmental, health, and safety effects of the introduction of new organisms. ERMA is required to adopt a precautionary approach and ensure that new organisms are carefully and cautiously assessed. The Court of Appeal decision means that MAF is not entitled to overlook this assessment when it recognises new organisms will arrive in imported goods.

Chris Trengrove says that his Board is at a loss to understand MAF. “Why would MAF choose not to protect New Zealand industries - even smaller ones - when it is entitled to protect New Zealand’s human, animal and plant health status under WTO rules? The Court of Appeal acknowledged that there was nothing to suggest that requiring new organisms to be approved by ERMA would breach any international obligation. We sincerely hope this decision has the effect of reinforcing to MAF the value New Zealand places on its biosecurity status, as enshrined in our legislation”.

ENDS

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