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Gypsy Moth today - Foot and Mouth tomorrow?

Shane Ardern National Biosecurity Spokesperson

2 April 2003

Gypsy Moth today - Foot and Mouth tomorrow?

The Government's loosening grip on biosecurity is putting the country's primary industry, and the whole economy at serious risk, says National's Biosecurity spokesman, Shane Ardern.

"The discovery of the Gypsy Moth in Hamilton, a pest listed as one of the most dangerous threats to our rural economy, is potentially catastrophic. Ten years ago, MAF estimated the arrival of the moth in New Zealand could cost us more than $364 million.

"We hear daily reports of unwanted pests being discovered. What's even worse is that many of these discoveries are made by members of the public, not by border control checks.

"Imported vehicles and sea containers are likely carriers. The risk to our economy, and to New Zealanders' health, is too great to hope that these vehicles and containers have been properly checked and fumigated before leaving overseas ports.

"We urge the Government to shut the door on these serious threats. Action is needed now to properly resource our border controls, to educate the public and to sharpen up fumigation and checking procedures.

"Otherwise, it will be just a matter of time before the threat of foot and mouth disease here becomes a reality," says Mr Ardern.

Ends

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