16 Oct 2009

Greens accused of scaremongering over palm imports

7:31 pm on 16 October 2009

The Government has accused the Green Party of scaremongering over suggestions of a risk of foot and mouth disease entering New Zealand in palm kernel shipments imported for stock feed.

Green Party biosecurity spokesperson Kevin Hague raised the issue in Parliament on Thursday in a question to the minister.

Mr Hague says foot and mouth disease is endemic in Malaysia, where much of the palm kernel expeller comes from.

He says Malaysia has had outbreaks of foot and mouth every year since 1982.

The disease is known to survive in soil and Mr Hague says soil has been found by farmers in palm kernel arriving in New Zealand.

Mr Hague believes palm kernel imports are unnecessary and has repeated the party's call for them to end.

However, Biosecurity Minister David Carter says the foot and mouth risk was assessed in developing the import health standard for palm kernel.

Mr Carter says Biosecurity New Zealand is confident that the treatment of the product required before it is shipped is enough to eliminate any threat.