Thank Goodness For Otago University

Published: Mon 20 Feb 2006 08:45 AM
Thank Goodness For Otago University
National Party Associate Conservation spokesman Eric Roy has praised researchers at the University of Otago for their discovery that the larvae of some native insects may feed on didymo, the invasive pest clogging southern waterways.
“At last we have people dealing with the issue, unlike the bureaucrats in Wellington who sat on their hands for over a year holding meetings about this huge problem,” Mr Roy said.
“It is refreshing and heartening to know the University researchers are helping to find solutions, rather than being tardy and pessimistic like Biosecurity NZ.”
Mr Roy has been critical of the Biosecurity response to didymo, particularly the 14 months it took the Government to make the South Island a controlled area.
“Didymo is indicative of wider issues with our biosecurity response. I am concerned at the ability of the Government to act quickly on matters that affect our flora and fauna, not to mention our primary industries,” he said.
Mr Roy said the announcement that the clover root weevil had been discovered near Christchurch, the threat of European foulbrood bacteria being introduced to New Zealand beehives now that MAF was considering allowing the importation of foreign honey, the spread of the Argentine Ant as far south as Taranaki, and the arrival of huntsman spiders in Christchurch all showed that New Zealand’s biosecurity net was full of holes.
“These are just the tip of the iceberg. On a recent trip to the USA, I saw firsthand the effects of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer. Huntsman spiders are a drop in the bucket compared to the effects CWD would have on our deer industry,” he said.
“New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world exporting produce that does not have prions – infectious proteins that cause outbreaks such as Mad Cow Disease – in the food chain. Given our dire Biosecurity record in recent times – and it appears to be getting worse – one can only hope those researchers at the University of Otago keep going to find cures for nasties that should have never come here in the first place,” Mr Roy said.

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