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Govt decision puts rural industries at risk

Shane Ardern MP
National Party Biosecurity Spokesman

Govt decision puts rural industries at risk

The decision to issue a new import health standard for honey comes as a blow to all our land-based industries, says National's Biosecurity spokesman, Shane Ardern.

"The honey industry is already suffering after varroa beemite was found in the South Island.

"But concerns about the risk of letting imported honey into New Zealand come from much wider than the honey industry. It affects all land-based industries, including the pastoral, viticultural and horticultural sectors.

"These concerns are well-founded, and Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton and Biosecurity NZ should have done further research before taking such a step, which, if they are wrong, cannot be fixed.

"What faith can New Zealanders have in the import health standards when the Auditor-General released a damning report in May on the standards and container checks?

"The Minister and his Labour-led Government should have ensured that our border control, health import standards, and container checks were up to an acceptable level before even contemplating this high-risk move.

"He should also have done further scientific research to ensure it was risk-free.

"New Zealand is one of the few countries that can export pure honey. Most countries now have European Foulbrood disease, and hives have to be treated with antibiotics.

"But this is not just about honey - the disease would have far-reaching consequences for all those industries that rely on pollination.

"When questioned in the House on this issue, Jim Anderton said he could not intervene in the decision on importing honey, but in Nelson he said if he thought importing honey would represent a risk, then he wouldn't allow it.

"In other words, he sits on the fence. This Minister is prepared to take a risk that could cost New Zealand hundreds of millions of dollars. To our industries, that risk is unacceptably high."

ENDS


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