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MAF Biosecurity Blunders

February 28 2008

MAF Biosecurity Blunders

Federated Farmers says blunders by MAF Biosecurity are threatening New Zealand’s primary sector and the environment.

The Federation says MAF Biosecurity’s decision to allow into the country a consignment of fibre used for potting mix from Sri Lanka without ensuring that it had been fumigated to kill any weeds is appalling and farmers are starting to lose confidence in this aspect of MAF’s operation.

Andrew Gillanders who represents the Federations grain and seed growers says surely the lights would have gone on in MAF Biosecurity when they were faced with an importation of material from a place such as Sri Lanka that was going to come into contact with NZ soil when we are an Agricultural nation. “We are faced with a situation where there are now at least 15 new species of unwanted weed seeds in the country. The potential consequences are huge. What if some are poisonous to livestock? Our ryegrass, clover and vegetable seed exports are at risk to countries that do not have these weeds” says Mr Gillanders.

Meanwhile, Bruce McNab, the Federation’s spokesperson on the environment says the introduction of these weeds could threaten New Zealand’s delicately balanced environment.

“These new weeds could spread quickly and damage or destroy native vegetation. It is incomprehensible that MAF Biosecurity allowed this happen and did not take steps to sterilise the material as soon as it arrived in New Zealand or made arrangements for this to be done before it left Sri Lanka. New Zealand’s primary sector and its environment are so precious to the economy of the country and there must be an end to the litany of mistakes made by MAF Biosecurity.

Federated Farmers says MAF Biosecurity has a lot to answer for and the government needs to work more closely with industry in finding solutions across the Biosecurity system. Mr Gillanders is pleased that MAF have now approached Federated Farmers to be part of a Stakeholder Advisory Group on this incursion.

ENDS

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