Rising biosecurity risk to unique NZ
2001-10-15 : 9:06:59 - PHILIPPA STEVENSON - http://www.nzherald.co.nz/
The invading bee-killing Varroa mite may have been brought to New Zealand on a smuggled queen bee. If someone set out to evade the border controls for the sake of some new bee genetics, they had lots of company. In the 12 months to March, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry quarantine service seized 8196 items of meat and poultry, 2302 dairy products and 143,710 plants, or an average of 422 items a day.
Little wonder that the country's biosecurity is regarded as under threat and that last week the Government stepped up efforts to intercept insects, animals and other organisms at the border. It has also launched an awareness campaign to make New Zealanders more aware of what they can do.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Morgan Williams, declared the country "under siege" some time ago and suggested biosecurity be accorded the same priority and focus as national security. Along with the multimillion-dollar threat to the economy, the environment, human and animal health is the threat to New Zealand's uniqueness.
Eighty five per cent of this country's trees, ferns and flowering plants are found only in New Zealand, as are 25 per cent of birds species, all species of weta, 60 reptiles, four remaining frog species, and two bat species. And although less than 10 per cent of the world's pests and diseases have gained access to these shores, the opportunities for them to leap across the oceans is growing.
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