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Bee Happy But Farmers Still Worry

4 April 2008

Bee Happy But Farmers Still Worry

Farmers are pleased imported products such as honey are to be assessed using a rigorous independent process, said John Hartnell, chair of Federated Farmers Bees Industry Group.

After a select committee review of the Biosecurity and Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Legislation Amendment Bill, the government has agreed to add amendments to the Biosecurity Act requiring an independent review process.

"Federated Farmers with other industry groups, has been strongly advocating for such a process and we are pleased to see government is accepting of our view, said Mr Hartnell.

"We welcome an independent review process that can be used in cases where industry concerns have arisen during formulation of an import health standard such as with the importation of Australian honey. This ensures the process will be more robust with the ability to challenge Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry science when necessary.

As it stands under the Biosecurity Act, MAF currently undertakes risk analyses, prepares import health standards, reviews submissions received on draft import health standards, and is in charge of compliance and enforcement.

"At no stage was there any independent check required within any part of the Import Health Standard development process. There was no formal provision for the involvement of independent experts or ability to appeal to a specialist tribunal or right of appeal to a Court, said Mr Hartnell.

"MAF is reluctant to head down the route of having a formal independent review process as they believe that they know best.

"The new legislation will ensure MAF's decision-making is more scientifically robust, transparent and credible through a process that requires independent input. This will enhance the existing procedures used by MAF in the preparation of import health standards.

"Biosecurity is critical to the future of New Zealand farming. The added independent review process will assist in lowering the risk of unwanted and harmful incursions," Mr Hartnell concluded.

ENDS

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