7 Jul 2012

NZ biosecurity system 'not world class'

9:35 pm on 7 July 2012

A critic of New Zealand's biosecurity system has seen red at the claim that it's world class.

The statement was made by the Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Wayne McNee when he released the independent review on the entry of kiwifruit vine disease PSA into New Zealand.

"And I can ensure you that the ministry, the minister and I are focused on ensuring we maintain and improve our world class biosecurity system", he said on Wednesday.

John Lancashire, former president of the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science, says the highly critical review shows the country's biosecurity system is not world class.

He says it's an extremely damning review which is very comprehensive.

Mr Lancashire says PSA is not an isolated situation, there's also been the fruit fly incursion, the varroa mite and the tomato-potato psyllid destroying tamarillo orchards and tomato crops.

He says it seems to indicate a general problem rather than just an isolated case.

Mr Lancashire says New Zealand's biosecurity standards don't stand up well in comparison with Australia's.

He says Australia does not have PSA, varroa or either of the two pig viruses which suggests they have a tougher, stronger system at the border than New Zealand.

The review was not able to determine how PSA arrived in New Zealand but identified four shortcomings with biosecurity systems including inadequate import controls on kiwifruit pollen and insufficient import regulations on nursery stock.