Pesticide use still an issue
If New Zealand is selling tourists and international consumers a vision of a clean and green land, we should be investing more in alternative weed management systems according to the President of the NZ Plant Protection Society, Dr Max Suckling.
"Weed science is not seen as “sexy” enough to get its share of resources to produce a sustainable future for New Zealand," Dr Suckling said.
The recent MAF report on pesticides carried out by HortResearch and AgResearch, highlighted recent improvements in food and environmental safety arising from pest and disease research in many sectors, but herbicides form 68 percent of pesticides used in New Zealand.
"Not enough is being done to manage weeds without using chemicals despite a report presented in 1997 to the Ministry of Research Science and Technology which flagged the declining national effort in this area over recent years", Dr Suckling said.
A recent UNESCO workshop in Auckland highlighted the need for more resources to be invested in biopesticides, including biological controls for widespread weeds and noxious weeds. Biopesticides offer advantages such as environmental safety but have had limited commercial success in competition with synthetic chemistry. Biological technology offers large benefits to countries that position themselves as “green”, but it requires long term committed funding.