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Another black widow the absolute last straw

16 October 2001

Another black widow the absolute last straw

The Green Party today said it was ludicrous that imports of Californian grapes were being allowed to continue, despite another live black widow spider being found in Auckland last week.

"This is the third black widow found in Californian grapes in two months," said Green Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street.

"The last time a black widow was found in late September MAF announced that the import of Californian grapes were being given one last chance. These imports have had this chance and have failed almost immediately," he said.

"This latest discovery is the last straw and there can be no excuse for not banning these imports immediately."

Mr Ewen-Street said the situation was farcical given that biosecurity measures for the import of these grapes were recently reviewed and upgraded.

"The risks of these imports clearly outweigh any benefits and MAFs latest assurance that the situation will be reviewed if another spider is found is meaningless in light of their earlier assurances," he said.

"MAF seem to be saying that just because there was no breakdown in our procedures, these imports should continue, despite the obvious risks.

"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.

"The Greens call on MAF and the Minister for Agriculture to ban these imports now as they are simply not safe."


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