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Three strikes for pine pitch canker

12 February, 2004

Three strikes for pine pitch canker

Green MP Ian Ewen-Street has endorsed MAF's decision to declare the United States off limits to pine imports, saying he hoped MAF would apply the same diligence to other imports that threatened New Zealand's biosecurity.

Mr Ewen-Street, the Green Biosecurity spokesperson, said he was glad MAF had gone further than his calls in November to ban pine imports from California, which followed the discovery of infected seedlings that could have devastated our pinus radiata and Douglas fir industries.

"It is heartening to see that MAF have acted comprehensively to restrict pine imports from the whole of the US," said Mr Ewen-Street. "I had called for imports to be restricted from California so this is excellent news for our $5 billion pine industry.

"However, this is no time for complacency. While the quarantine system has been effective in detecting infected pine seedlings, we cannot rely on it alone.

"Quarantine should be the last line of defence - not the first."

Mr Ewen-Street said he had been less than impressed with MAF's performance of late and called on the Ministry to lift its game more consistently for biosecurity threats.

"I would hope that this decision sets a benchmark for other imports," said Mr Ewen-Street. "As New Zealand is largely dependant on agricultural trade it is crucial that MAF simply eliminates unnecessary risks.

"Allowing the importation of pine from areas known to be infected with pine pitch canker, as they did, was an unnecessary risk.

"The same applies for table grapes imported from California, where Pierce's disease is found, and pig products from Canada where multisystemic post-weaning syndrome is found in pig populations.

"MAF have made the right move for the pine industry, let's see them do the right thing by applying this common sense across the board," said Mr Ewen-Street.

ENDS

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