Call for independent biosecurity conducts authority

Soil & Health – Organic NZ has joined Federated Farmers call for an independent biosecurity conducts authority to independently investigate biosecurity incursions and complaints against the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry – Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ).

“An independent biosecurity conducts authority may also recommend better government resourcing for MAFBNZ to enable better incursion responses and surveillance monitoring,” said Soil & Health – Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.

MAFBNZ lost $1.9 million base line funding in the May budget.

“Soil & Health was appalled when jobs were axed because of the budget cuts. The government used a drop in trade as its reason, although biosecurity measures both at the border and internally needed improving, not diluting.”

“Soil & Health has repeatedly discovered breaches at genetic engineering (GE) field trials that MAFBNZ was meant to be monitoring, then MAFBNZ became the investigator and judge. While MAFBNZ has significant strengths and should be commended for what it has achieved, it also has serious deficiencies and ultimately lacks independence.”

“MAF is its own bender of rules, policeman, detective, and judge and jury. There must be a better system.”

“Soil & Health has graphic examples of MAF cover-ups at both Scion and Plant & Food Research’s GE field trial breaches, and AgResearch’s GE animal trials are not adequately monitored. Give MAFBNZ more staff resources to do the job properly and create an independent watchdog to ensure it happens,” added Mr Browning.

Varroa and now the parasite Nosema ceranae are affecting the bee industry and new horticultural pests are consistently arriving in New Zealand.

“Continued   new pest incursions and GE field trial breaches that are not satisfactorily explained, justify Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson John Hartnell’s call for an  Independent Biosecurity Conducts Authority.”

“Both Soil & Health and Federated Farmers members recognise the huge economic impact of biosecurity breaches. Government knows that there are risks to all primary production and tourism by poor biosecurity protection. It must improve the situation quickly.”

“Soil & Health promotes environmental sustainability and supports the validating of New Zealand’s clean green 100% Pure brand, including pesticide reduction. Less pests, less pesticides.”

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