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Greens urge close look at range of mite controls

Green Party Agriculture and Biosecurity spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street is urging the government not to rush down the path of chemical dependence in the search for ways to control the Varroa mite which is threatening our honey producers.

Mr Ewen-Street said the Greens recognised the seriousness of the threat to the honey and bee industries but said a range of ways of controlling the mite must be considered to meet the needs of different farmers using different techniques.

"Obviously a complete chemical approach to controlling this mite is not going to sit well with our organic honey producers," he said. "However there are a range of organic measures which can be successfully used to control this mite such as a range of essential oils, plant oils and formic acids.

"This is a serious issue which requires urgent action if we are to get on top of this outbreak, however we must consider the implications of a blanket chemical treatment on some producers and markets. Our organic honey producers would be effectively wiped out with a chemical campaign and we urge the government to consider the range of alternatives," said Mr Ewen Street.

The chemical treatment most commonly used in treating this mite is Apistan. Already there are states in the USA where mites have developed resistance to Apistan's active ingredient, fluvalinate.

"Whether the decision is to try and eliminate or to control this mite, the impact on our honey and bee producers will be immense," he said. "We may have to accept that we may now never be free of this mite and may have to simply learn to live with it."

However learning to live with it should not force all honey producers down the chemical route, he said.

"Obviously the best way of controlling pests is to stop them from entering the country in the first place," said Mr Ewen-Street. "However yet another failing of our biosecurity controls now leaves our honey producers in the unenviable position of trying to either eliminate or control this pest.

"The Green Party will continue to pressure the government to take urgent and significant action on our poor border controls," he said.

Ends

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