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Greens seriously concerned with MAF's explanations

15 March 2002

Greens seriously concerned with MAF's PAM explanations

Green Biosecurity Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street today said he was not satisfied with or reassured by MAFs explanations about their handling of the painted apple moth incursion in West Auckland.

MAF were called to Parliament yesterday to brief the Primary Production Select Committee on the controversial handling of the outbreak. The briefing was initiated by Mr Ewen-Street.

"The Greens have long been concerned at MAF's handling of this outbreak and their answers to my questions in select committee yesterday did nothing to allay those concerns," he said.

"In particular I am alarmed by MAF's slow response to the PAM incursion. The first painted apple moth was found in May 1999 yet the first traps for delimiting the area of the incursion were not set until December 2000."

Mr Ewen-Street said MAF's efforts to develop a pheromone control for the moth failed to use the team that successfully developed a pheromone for the White Spotted Tussock Moth, for no apparent reason.

Mr Ewen-Street said while the Greens believe spraying could have been avoided if MAF had acted quicker, even once the decision to spray had been made things moved far too slowly.

"The recommendation to start aerial spraying was made in May 2001, but the spray was not ordered until September 2001 and actual spraying did not commence until Jan 2002. There was no education program about the painted apple moth caterpillar until late 2001 and no billboards until Oct 2001."

Mr Ewen-Street said there was a real chance that the painted apple moth may now not be able to be eradicated.

"I have suspected that this whole affair has been mishandled from the start. Yesterday's answers from MAF have confirmed my suspicions," he said.

ENDS

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