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MAF in denial over bird flu risk

MAF in denial over bird flu risk

Green MP, Sue Kedgley is questioning MAF's assertion that there isn't even a minimal risk to New Zealand from the bird flu epidemic sweeping Asia, given that it appears confused as to exactly which poultry products from the affected countries are entering New Zealand.

Ms Kedgley has raised concerns over the annual import of over 31,000 tonnes of poultry products - including processed chicken meat, feathers and skin - from the Asian countries hit hardest by the latest strain of bird flu. She called on New Zealand to follow the European Union's lead and suspend imports of poultry products from the affected countries.

"MAF's response that there is 'not even a minimal risk in New Zealand' is yet another example of MAF downplaying the risk and refusing to take a precautionary approach," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Party Health spokesperson.

"Contrary to MAF's assertions, New Zealand is continuing to import processed poultry products that are now banned in Europe."

Ms Kedgley pointed out that the virus had now become a serious human health hazard, with twelve people now confirmed dead and growing fears that it might mutate into a form that was able to pass between humans, triggering a human flu pandemic.

"Why take the risk, however small?" Ms Kedgley asked. "The Europeans are clearly worried enough about the safety of poultry products arriving from infected countries to order a ban and we should be no less cautious."

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