22 Oct 2010

Calls for biosecurity watchdog

1:45 pm on 22 October 2010

There are calls for an independent watchdog group to investigate biosecurity incursions and complaints against the Ministry of Agriculture.

Federated Farmers says there have been three significant post-border biosecurity incursions this year and it believes there is an air of fatalism within MAF that everything will get here, eventually.

It's biosecurity spokesperson, John Hartnell, says the country is gambling with its major export industries and there needs to be some accountability.

The Soil and Health Association's spokesperson Steffan Browning, agrees, saying MAF Biosecurity shouldn't be its own judge and jury when there are pest incursions and genetic engineering field trial breaches.

MAF Biosecurity acting deputy director general Tim Knox says the organisation has extensive internal checks in place, and an independent advisory body already exists to police it.

He says the Biosecurity Ministerial Advisory Committee is made up of experts from outside the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Mr Knox says MAF Biosecurity has been successful in keeping out most of the major pests and diseases that are a problem in other parts of the world.