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Last chance must be very last chance

25 September 2001

Attention Rural / Agriculture Reporter

Last chance must be very last chance for Californian grapes

Green MP Ian Ewen-Street said MAF must mean what it says when it announced today that the import of Californian grapes would be given one last chance.

The import of Californian table grapes has been under review since two live black widow spiders were discovered in separate shipments in three weeks.

"The Greens believe the risks of these shipments clearly outweigh any benefits," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"We believe these imports should have been stopped immediately following the discovery of the second black widow but, given that they are being allowed another chance, this must be the absolute last chance."

Mr Ewen-Street said the biosecurity measures for the import of Californian grapes had failed, despite a recent upgrade, and he could not see how the safety of the imports could be guaranteed from here on in.

"As I have said at length, if black widow spiders can make it here alive, what guarantees are there that eggs from the glassy winged sharpshooter - an insect which has devastated the vineyards of Southern California - cannot also make it through on fragments of vine leaf," he said.

"If the measures currently in place fail again then we must once and for all admit that the risks to our wine industry are too great and the plug must be pulled on these imports."

ENDS

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