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Being the ‘First XV’ of Biosecurity

6 September 2011

Being the ‘First XV’ of Biosecurity

With an estimated 80,000 visitors entering New Zealand for Rugby World Cup 2011, New Zealanders are being asked to become a ‘First XV’ of biosecurity.

“We welcome Rugby World Cup visitors to see, taste and wear some of the best food and fibre in the world,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President and the Federation’s Biosecurity spokesperson.

“New Zealand is unique in that we are relatively free of major pests and diseases affecting agriculture in other parts of the world. While we all wish to see visitors enter our country quickly to enjoy our great Kiwi hospitality, biosecurity is one thing that must not be compromised.

“The office of the Minister of Biosecurity has assured Federated Farmers that biosecurity standards are not being relaxed due to the world cup. The Rugby World Cup will be a great boon for the economy but it would be a tragedy, if any gain was wiped out by a major incursion.

“That’s a message the Government fully understands, but we also need New Zealand’s public and businesses in the biosecurity team.

“Many visitors will be staying with friends, family or in paid-for accommodation. We really need the public, from hotel cleaners to friends and family to play the role of fullback. Each country has a list of its worst pests and diseases; they are the players we don’t want in New Zealand for Rugby World Cup 2011.

“Take honey for example. European Foulbrood and the Israeli Paralysis Virus are transmittable in it and while safe to humans, either could devastate our already struggling honey bee industry.

“Even ‘plant seeds from home’, if not approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), could easily introduce devastating plants or plant related pests.

“In the past decade we’ve had a number of incursions as a result of tourism, didymo being the most obvious.

“Only a few years ago, a juvenile Cane Toad made an abortive break for freedom at a camping shop in Queenstown; it entered New Zealand in a pair of tramping boots.

“The best way of preventing a new incursion taking hold is for all New Zealanders to be the biosecurity XV,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

MAF's exotic disease and pest emergency hotline is 0800 80 99 66. All food and plant material brought into New Zealand, even the smallest amount, needs to be declared.

ENDS

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