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Greens angry at Varroa Mite decision

Greens angry at Varroa Mite decision

The Government decision not to eradicate the Varroa bee mite ensures that New Zealand's honey and bee industries will never again be the same, Green Party Agriculture spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street said today.

Mr Ewen-Street said the Green Party was angry the Government were not prepared to undertake a serious campaign to eliminate the Varroa Mite, which would now always taint New Zealand's bee products. He said the Government had gone against the clear wishes of the bee and honey industries and had chosen to ignore strong representations from the Greens on the issue.

"The Varroa Mite entered this country through one of a number of serious recent breaches in our biosecurity," he said. "Our border controls have offered little protection for our apiarists and now the Government are saying they will just have to learn to live with it."

Mr Ewen-Street said there was always the chance that an eradication programme might have failed but he believed the effort to completely eradicate the mite should have been made. He said the government's indecision on this issue had been very disappointing.

"The honey and bee industries in New Zealand are worth well over $50 million per year for New Zealand and, in terms of the wider advantages for our agricultural sector, the bee industry has been estimated to be worth well over $2 billion per year," he said.

This includes the costs associated with interrupting the pollinating work of bees which is so crucial to orcharding and to the supply of clover.

"Eradication would be expensive, and the beekeepers would then have to be fully compensated, so it was not a cheap option. However through taking the cheap option in terms of border control was how this pest arrived here in the first place.

"The Greens feel the Government owed our bee industry at the very least a serious and properly funded attempt to eliminate this mite. We are disappointed this effort will not be made and, unless we can change the Government's mind, and quickly, we are now stuck with this pest forever."

Ends

Ian Ewen-Street MP: 04 470 6726, 025 902 527 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

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