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1 black widow, 2 black widow, 3 black widow, 4...

5 November 2001

One black widow, two black widow, three black widow, four...

Green MP Ian Ewen-Street today said imports of Californian grapes must be banned immediately, following the fourth black widow spider found in New Zealand last week.

"Contrary to MAF spin that this is the fourth black widow found in Californian grapes this year, it is in fact the fourth in around three months," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"This latest spider is the fourth since imports of Californian grapes resumed around the start of September and people should bear in mind that these imports were suspended earlier this year while biosecurity measures were reviewed and then tightened.

"The situation is completely ridiculous. Since the second black widow was found and MAF said these imports were on their 'last chance' we have had two more spiders and still no action."

Mr Ewen-Street said there appeared to be a real reluctance on the part of MAF to do anything about these constant biosecurity breaches.

"We need to ban these imports now rather than to wait out the end of the Californian grape season in early December.

"The costs clearly outweigh any benefits and, as I have said before, the real threat from these imports is the possible introduction of the glassy winged sharpshooter which has the potential to devastate wine production in New Zealand," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"The possibility of sharpshooter egg masses coming in on fragments of leaf is not high, but supposedly neither is the risk of importing black widow spiders."

ENDS


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