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Proactive Approach To Border Biosecurity

9 December 2004
Media Statement

Proactive approach to border biosecurity

A research programme to protect New Zealand's shores from invading organisms will receive approximately $6 million per year from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

The programme entitled "Better Border Biosecurity" led by Crop & Food Research has been awarded this funding as part of the Foundation's investment in natural ecosystems research. Crop & Food Research have formed a strong collaboration with HortResearch, the Forest Research, and AgResearch to deliver this programme.

New Zealand's borders are more open to people and goods from other countries than ever before, increasing the vulnerability of our natural environment and agricultural base to invading organisms, plant pathogens and diseases.

The cost of total exotic insect (invertebrate) pests alone is already estimated at $2 billion a year.

Worryingly, the incursion rate (number of exotic species arriving in the country) has skyrocketed. There were three new incursions in 1990 but 30 in 2003. At the current rate there will be over 500 new incursions over the decade or so. These incursions affect both the natural environment and the productive sectors.

This research programme aims to give New Zealand the tools to detect and deal with incursions before organisms become firmly established, avoiding the disruption and anxiety caused by incursion responses (e.g. aerial spraying for painted apple moth).

Methods and technologies will be developed so harmful organisms are excluded pre-border, intercepted at the border, or eradicated post-border.

The research team will be developing high-tech biosecurity tools, such as remote-sensing systems, as well as filling some fundamental gaps in our knowledge of biosecurity.

ENDS


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