Kevin Hague

Time to stop importing pollen

by Kevin Hague

I want to support Federated Farmers in their raising the possibility that imported pollen may be a vector for the introduction of PSA disease in kiwifruit. This imported pollen is used to artificially pollinate kiwifruit and includes pollen from countries with PSA disease.

Beekeepers are already alarmed at the arrival in NZ of the potentially devastating parasite Nosema cerenae.  There is a risk that this devastating new parasite could have come in on imported pollen as it has only been found in bees in the last six weeks. (How ironic if in importing pollen in to NZ we were to put at risk our bee industry.) Nosema cerenae kills bees through diarrhoea—it’s the reason the bee industry here has been fighting to keep Aussie honey out of NZ. Australia imports honey from China and Sth America and then re-package it as Australian (because they have a Made in Australia rule—50% has to be from Oz), and this parasite is found in these places. The imported pollen in the Bay of Plenty is from Chile so therefore it would be an easy assumption to make that it carried in n. cerenae.

Nobody is saying that this imported pollen is certainly the source of PSA disease in New Zealand, and the Minister’s calls for calm heads and caution are absolutely appropriate. But in this case caution surely dictates a halt to this trade. It seems bizarre for us to be importing pollen at all, but at least a temporary halt should be put in place immediately.

For me this highlights two of the points I made in my speech about PSA disease: 1. our headlong rush into global free trade has resulted in a massive increase in imports, bringing with them a massive increase in biosecurity risks: and 2. a biosecurity approach based on risk profiling, sampling, and detecting only what we can see seems, at best, antiquated (positioned historically some time before the invention of the microscope).

[Edit - it is Made in Australia rule not product of Australia rule. My bad — Frog]

Published in Environment & Resource Management | Featured by Kevin Hague on Fri, November 19th, 2010   

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