PSA kiwifuit bacteria reached NZ through China – expert

New Zealand First warns that Government cuts to biosecurity will lead to another disaster to match the Psa kiwifruit bacteria outbreak which has been identified as reaching the country in a consignment of anthers from Shaanxi Province in China to Kiwi Pollen in June 2009.

It is understood that Otago University associate professor Russell Poulter undertook genetic analysis to trace the Psa bacteria which he found had entered New Zealand from China through Kiwi Pollen Ltd. Estimates put the damage Psa will do to our kiwifruit industry at about $900 million.

Winston Peters says Government assurances that it has been objective and rigorous in investigating the biosecurity breach are hollow . “The Government is going about an inquiry seeking to avoid the truth because that means countless expensive court cases for failing to exercise a duty of care. There is no doubt that the Government’s lax biosecurity allowed the Psa virus to enter New Zealand undetected from China.

“Psa continues to cause havoc in the kiwifruit industry. Jobs have been lost and massive financial and mental pain inflicted on innocent fruit growers.

“Of real concern are Government cuts to biosecurity which have significantly weakened our border controls. They include the loss of 25 frontline staff since 2008, and $2 million of cuts to biosecurity budgets since 2009.

“It’s obvious that the Government hasn’t learned anything from the Psa outbreak but New Zealand First is willing to give it a short, sharp lesson.

“Biosecurity needs to be beefed up to prevent the devastation of other important primary industries, not cut back to save a few dollars.

“Sadly, National thinks that short term savings outweigh the long term risks of another alien body entering our country and causing billions of dollars damage.

“How wrong they are,” says Peters.

 

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