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Moth paints picture of perpetual MAF failure

January 21, 2004
Moth paints picture of perpetual MAF failure

Green MP Ian Ewen-Street said today that the discovery of another Painted Apple Moth (PAM) - this time in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden - could have been averted many years ago if MAF had not completely mismanaged the situation.

Mr Ewen-Street, the Green Biosecurity spokesperson, backed calls for MAF to use the synthetic pheromone developed by Dr John Clearwater in a 'catch and kill' program to avoid exposing more Aucklanders to Foray 48B spray.

"MAF seems unwilling to use the best tool to eradicate the Painted Apple Moth without spraying Auckland with yet another dose of its chemical cocktail," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"The major disappointment here is that MAF could have averted this threat to our biosecurity years ago when Dr Clearwater first offered to develop a pheromone that is many times more powerful than a live female moth."

MAF denied Dr Clearwater access to live female moths so he could develop the pheromone when PAM was first discovered in 1999, even though he successfully developed the White Spotted Tussock pheromone and had offered to do the research for free.

"MAF's mismanagement has meant the pheromone arrived two and a half years late - it was only a matter of weeks before Dr Clearwater isolated the active ingredients after he was finally given the raw materials from which to work.

"MAF had a potential solution to the Painted Apple Moth threat and let it slip from their grasp. In the meantime, many people have suffered serious health consequences that can be attributed to being sprayed with Foray 48B.

"MAF should make up for its past mistakes, acknowledge Dr Clearwater's contribution and immediately begin using the pheromone to attract and kill the moths, rather than just using it for 'recording' traps."

Mr Ewen-Street commended MAF on putting more traps out to gauge the extent of the problem, "rather than go out with all guns blazing".

"They should not embark on a spraying campaign until it is absolutely clear that this sole moth is not an isolated case.

"We don't want to see a repeat of the situation in Hamilton where schools shut down and much of Frankton was sprayed on the basis of discovering only one male Asian Gypsy Moth," he said.


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