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Important to keep science-based focus

11th July 2006

Important to keep science-based focus with honey imports

The Minister of Biosecurity, Jim Anderton, said today that the Honey Import Standard for Australian honey and bee-related products was based on evidence and science-based information. He said that this had been a long and complex process, which included consideration of the broader trade context in which New Zealand operates.

"New Zealand depends on export markets for the success of our primary products and therefore strongly supports a rules-based approach to international trade. New Zealand must comply with international agreements on trade and any protective measures must have scientific, evidence-based justification.

"The issuing of an Import Health Standard to Australia has been a long and rigorous process. Australia has been requesting access for its honey and bee products for many years. MAF has listened intently to the views of our local bee industry and has taken over five years and gone through three rounds of consultation with the industry, as well as others, to reach this decision. It hasn't been taken lightly or without full scientific analysis.

"I am satisfied that the risk analysis was peer-reviewed by bee disease experts, with international and New Zealand-based reviewers considering key parts of the document. Internationally, New Zealand is known to be very tough in its biosecurity decisions because, as an island state, we are vulnerable. These imports are being allowed in under the strictest biosecurity guidelines that ensure the risk is reduced to negligible levels.

“Biosecurity New Zealand have done intensive risk analysis and concluded that honey could be imported from countries where European Foulbrood is present, provided it was subject to heat treatment giving a million-fold reduction in bacteria.

"New Zealand is a major primary producer reliant on exporting our primary produce. So New Zealand must be consistent in the way it meets its international trade obligations. Our principles for accepting imports to New Zealand must therefore be consistent with our expectations of the way other countries accept our exports," Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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