Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Release of bug could put NZ native species at risk

Release of bug could put NZ native species at risk

New Zealand’s native insects and plants will be put at risk if a proposal to release a predatory bug to protect tomato plants goes ahead, says University of Auckland biosecurity lecturer Dr Margaret Stanley.

New Zealand’s native insects and plants will be put at risk if a proposal to release a predatory bug to protect tomato plants goes ahead, says University of Auckland biosecurity lecturer Dr Margaret Stanley.

Industry body TomatoesNZ, which represents New Zealand tomato growers, has applied to the Government’s environmental regulator, the Environmental Protection Authority, to import and release Macrolophus pygmaeusas a biocontrol agent for the greenhouse whitefly. Growers say controlling greenhouse whitefly by introducing a biocontrol agent would lower the use of chemical sprays and increase yields.

But in her submission to the EPA, Dr Stanley says if Macrolophus pygmaeus is introduced to New Zealand, there is a high risk of damage to New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna.

“There is a risk some New Zealand native species will be lost if this application is approved or at the very least there will be irreversible damage to plant and invertebrate animal communities. While the industry’s drive to reduce the use of chemical sprays is admirable, the likely negative consequences for New Zealand are likely to be worse than the current spray regime.”

Dr Stanley says a number of aspects of TomatoesNZ’s application to the EPA are of concern, including the assertion that the predatory bug is a specialist whitefly predator.

“Given that it also feeds on aphids, moth eggs, caterpillars, thrips and spider mites this is clearly a generalist predator and the implications of releasing such an organism needs to be considered with great care. Best practice for biocontrol around the world is to use highly specific biocontrol agents to reduce risk.”

While tomato growers are seeking to breed colonies of Macrolophus pygmaeus for release into greenhouses, Dr Stanley says the bug will have many opportunities to escape through open cooling vents. It has established outside greenhouses in the UK and the risk of the same thing happening here is high.

“The most reliable climate modelling shows Macrolophus pygmaeus would have optimal ecoclimate conditions to establish in Northland, Auckland and the east coast of the North Island, and ‘suitable’ conditions extend south to Nelson.”

Macrolophus pygmaeus was released illegally in New Zealand in 2007 but did not survive outside greenhouses. Dr Stanley says the industry is using that to support its case, but argues the bug was not released on a scale comparable to what is now proposed and the illegal release was also very localised.

“The illegal release in 2007 can’t be compared to what could happen under the new plan which will see the bug released into greenhouses on a much larger scale and over a far wider area,” Dr Stanley says.

Comparing New Zealand to the UK, where M. pygmaeus was introduced in 1991, was also misleading.

“Unlike Europe, a high proportion of our native invertebrates are found nowhere else in the world and some of them have yet to be scientifically described so that we don’t even know whether or not they are threatened or to what degree they will be impacted by the introduction of this new species,” Dr Stanley says.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Wine: 20% Of Marlborough Storage Tanks Damaged By Quake

An estimated 20 percent of wine storage tanks in the Marlborough region, the country’s largest wine producing area, have been damaged by the impact of the recent Kaikoura earthquake. More>>

ALSO:

ACC: Levy Recommendations For 2017 – 2019 Period

• For car owners, a 13% reduction in the average Motor Vehicle levy • For businesses, a 10% reduction in the average Work levy, and changes to workplace safety incentive products • For employees, due to an increase in claims volumes and costs, a 3% increase in the Earners’ levy. More>>

Women's Affairs: Government Accepts Recommendations On Pay Equity

The Government will update the Equal Pay Act and amend the Employment Relations Act to implement recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity. More>>

ALSO:

Immigration: Increase In Seasonal Workers For RSE

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season. Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. More>>

ALSO:

Hurunui: Crown Irrigation Invests Up To $3.4m In North Canterbury

Crown Irrigation Investments will invest up to $3.4m in the Hurunui Water Project, an irrigation scheme that will be capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury. More>>

ALSO:

Not So Great:Butterfly Eradication Success

The invasive pest great white butterfly has been eradicated from New Zealand in a world-first achievement, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Government’s Tax Cuts Fixation

Long before the earthquake hit, the dodginess of the government tax cuts programnme was evident in the language of its packaging. It is being touted as a “tax cuts and family care” package... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news