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BSE case a wake-up call on biosecurity

BSE case a wake-up call on biosecurity

Reports of a mad cow disease case in Canada prove this Government's taking a big risk gambling on our biosecurity, says National's Biosecurity spokesman Shane Ardern.

"Only last week, I said that Biosecurity was a big loser in the Budget and the Government was ignoring calls to tighten New Zealand's border controls.

"Clearly it needs to take another look at funding, with this scare in Canada which, until now, was considered BSE-free.

"The Biosecurity Minister continues to downplay key risk factors to New Zealand's primary production sector - for example, a decision on beefing up sea container checks has been delayed, despite MAF's own survey raising concerns about the current checking system.

"This is a major risk area that needs action now - not later.

"Last year, quarantine officers removed 8 tonnes of meat products, 15 tonnes of fruit, 3.6 tonnes of seeds and similar amounts of dairy products and fish products, and 5,800 plant items from people coming into New Zealand.

"But they estimate many more unwanted products slipped through.

"Should this not be the wake-up call this Government needs to do something serious about our border check systems?"

Mr Ardern says thorough sea container inspections are needed, and the fines for bringing an illegal product into our country should be increased. Visitors who deliberately flout our biosecurity rules should be sent back.

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