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Foot and mouth hoax a warning

11 May 2005

Foot and mouth hoax a warning

A hoax or not, it shouldn't take something as serious as a foot and mouth scare for New Zealand's biosecurity to become a public priority, the Green Party says.

"While it's welcome that authorities have taken swift action in this case, it's disappointing that when the threat is to our environment and not our economy, much less is done," Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

"In the South Island, the Waiau River is clogged with a North American 'rock snot' algae which somehow made its way into our ecosystem. Funding for a stoat eradication study which could save many endangered Kiwis has recently been denied. And just today, there has been another find of the painted apple moth, which invaded from Australia..

"The Government needs to acknowledge that threats to our biosecurity are of utmost concern, regardless of whether they primarily affect the economy, the environment, farming, or people's health."

New Zealand's biosecurity laws are in urgent need of review and strengthening, Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Although this foot and mouth scare is very likely to be a hoax which should be condemned, experts such as noted epidemiologist Professor Roger Morris have warned that it would be easy to smuggle the virus across New Zealand's borders.

"It's good enough for New Zealand to react quickly to outbreaks of imported diseases and pests. By the time they get here, the damage has been done. We need to put much greater resources into ensuring they don't get here in the first place.

"That would involve increased funding for MAF's biosecurity section and more vigilant controls at our airports and ports of what is coming into New Zealand."

ENDS

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