NZ bees 'a honeypot away from disaster'

By Kate Shuttleworth

Honey exports are valued at around $101 million. Photo / Thinkstock
Honey exports are valued at around $101 million. Photo / Thinkstock

The bee industry is right to be concerned about the threat from honey brought into this country from Australia, Labour spokesman for Biosecurity Damien O'Connor said.

Mr O'Connor said assurances from the Government that biosecurity border control is hitting targets were not enough.

"It has been found that Australian honey is often mixed with honey from other countries, meaning European foulbrood and other diseases could arrive in New Zealand via Australian honey if careful checks are not in place."

He said one biosecurity breach could cripple the industry, which has dealt with the fallout of three of the world's most serious bee diseases.

About 1300 kilograms of honey is seized at the border each year and those figures have remained high in spite of attempts to inform travellers from Australia of the risk.

Honey exports are valued at around $101 million.

"The direct exit strategy - where travellers arriving from Australia are not checked at all - further adds to concerns, as does the Government's proposals to open the door to importing honey from Australia.

"The industry claims our bees are just a honeypot away from disaster and that each kilogram of honey seized at the border is a potential bio-bomb.

"That shouldn't just give pause for thought. It should also serve as a warning to the Government that it can't afford to be complacent about the risks the sector is exposed to," said Mr O'Connor.

- APNZ

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