GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 7th  June 2005

Australia Threatens Sanctions over NZ Biosecurity Measures

New Zealand's future is at risk as a result of Australia's threats of sanctions over biosecurity measures designed to prevent new pests gaining a foothold here.

A report in Farmers Weekly says that NZ Government ministers have admitted Australia had threatened New Zealand with punitive sanctions if steps were taken to prevent inadvertent imports of glyphosate-resistant ryegrass as contamination in grain.

The letter signed by Jim Sutton’s press secretary said that in rejecting the testing the Australians pointed out there were more weed seeds in grain imports from New Zealand, and said that “no country in the world has measures for Roundup-resistant plant seeds. If we took measures against them these measures would be unfair (aimed only at one country) and unprecedented (nowhere else in the world).They (the Australians) proposed punitive measures on New Zealand products in response".

“The measures they proposed for our exports to Australia were potentially disastrous for our industry here and so further steps were not taken,” the Minister's letter is reported to have stated.

"If this kind of blackmail is allowed it will make a shambles of our bio-security standards," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
It is a cause of great concern that growers were told some years ago that the biosecurity measures were being put in place but were grossly misled.

It is also damaging to international relations that New Zealand representatives have betrayed our national interests by playing a 'spoiler' role at the recent Conference on the Cartegna Protocols and blocked moves for an international system of similar protections around GMO's.

"It makes it hard for New Zealand to defend it's own biosecurity needs when we are trying to block other countries from doing so," says Jon Carapiet. "Basically this shows what a mess is being made of balancing New Zealand's biosecurity and trade interests."


Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681

contact details: NZ FARMERS WEEKLY 0 800 85 25 80
letters to editor:
fax: 06 323 7101

MAF failure to act on ryegrass threat exposed
by Annette Scott

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