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Urgent investigation needed of grape pest threat

David Carter National Biosecurity Spokesperson

27 November 2000

Urgent investigation needed of grape pest threat

Marian Hobbs must act speedily to investigate whether the importation of Californian grapes poses a threat to New Zealand's $2 billion wine industry, National's Biosecurity spokesperson David Carter said today.

Serious questions are being raised about an incurable disease which is ravaging grapevines in California. Pierces disease is spread by bacteria, which are carried on an insect, called the glassy winged sharpshooter. There are fears this insect could enter New Zealand on imported Californian table grapes.

"New Zealand's highly successful wine industry could be under considerable threat," David Carter said.

"Last month black widow spiders and redback jumping spiders were found in a consignment of Californian table grapes. What's to stop this new pest beating New Zealand's quarantine measures?

"Marion Hobbs completely botched the Government's handling of the Varroa Bee-Mite, in the process allowing it time to become established. She must not allow New Zealand grape growers to suffer the same fate.

"I take little comfort from the reported comments of a MAF official saying that the risks of the pest coming to New Zealand are low. This same attitude underestimated the financial effects of the Varroa Bee Mite.

"This is the Biosecurity Minister's chance to prove that she has some understanding of the urgency required to deal with threats to our biosecurity," David Carter said. "She must act before it's too late."

Ends


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