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Government outrage at foot and mouth claims

New Zealand was fed-up with its disease-free status being maligned by other countries, Acting Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Two weeks after a German pamphlet inaccurately said New Zealand sheep had scrapie, CNN has reported that New Zealand has had outbreaks of foot and mouth disease. As well, Time magazine has reported that New Zealand "had largely eliminated" foot and mouth disease.

Mr Sutton said other countries needed to get it right ? New Zealand did not have foot and mouth disease and never had had the disease. Scrapie was elimated 30 years ago.

"We in New Zealand are proud of our largely disease-free status, and jealously guard it. That's why we have imposed strict border control measures to ensure foot and mouth disease, and other pests and diseases New Zealand doesn't have, don't make it here.

"Our economy is hugely dependent on a strong and healthy agricultural sector. The New Zealand Government intends to keep our agricultural products the best in the world."

Mr Sutton said he was disappointed with the standard of reporting on the latest international outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

"These are supposed to be pre-eminent media organisations. It is disappointing they are unable to access Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry or World Health Organisation websites, let alone ring our embassies, to check their facts.

"There are a lot of countries around the world who don't like the way New Zealand stands out as disease-free. We don't want to be tarred with their dirty brushes."

ENDS

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