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Ban on Californian grape imports must be ongoing

6 November 2001

Ban on Californian grape imports must be ongoing - Greens

Green Biosecurity Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street today welcomed the suspension of Californian grape imports after four black widow spiders were found in three months, but said the ban should be ongoing.

MAF have announced a six month suspension of the imports while a biosecurity review is conducted.

"The Greens are pleased with the suspension as it has been a very long time coming," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"However these imports were suspended and reviewed earlier this year and the biosecurity measures were tightened then. Since imports resumed under these tightened rules three months ago we have found four live black widow spiders.

"If we can do better in terms of controls on these imports then it should have been done during the last review," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"I have no confidence in the safety of these imports and the suspension must become a long-term ban until the safety of these grapes can be absolutely guaranteed.

"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.

"This decision is a reprieve for New Zealand wine growers and consumers alike, but it must not be a mere sop to the concerns of New Zealanders. It must be a meaningful ban."

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