MAF acts on honey report

15 September 2009

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has considered the findings of an independent panel report on the requirements governing proposed future imports of bee products from Australia.

MAF developed the requirements, known as an Import Health Standard (IHS), in 2006 but it was legally challenged by New Zealand's bee industry. A subsequent judgement by the Court of Appeal quashed the IHS.

In 2008, legislation was passed reinstating the IHS, but requiring a suspension on imports of Australian honey until an independent review panel had reported to the MAF Director-General on aspects of the scientific evidence and risks associated with the proposed imports, and the Director-General had then made a determination on whether any amendment to the requirements was required.

The Director-General has now reviewed those findings – in particular its recommendations for MAF to further consider science and risks posed by four organisms with potential impacts on the bee industry: European foulbrood (EFB); Paenibacillus alvei; Nosema ceranae; and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV).

The report concluded that there is no need to make changes to the IHS as it relates to measures to manage the risks associated with European foulbrood.

However, due to a lack of information and/or uncertainty in relation to the other three organisms – P.alvei, N. ceranae, and IAPV – the Director-General has concluded that he is unable to make a judgement about aspects of the IHS relating to those organisms until MAF undertakes further work.

He also believes that recent evidence confirms the presence of P.alvei in New Zealand and therefore MAF will be approaching ERMA to have the status of this organism reassessed.

N. ceranae and IAPV are organisms that emerged internationally as disease threats for beekeeping during the course of the MAF risk analysis and import health standard development process. Although MAF did look into the risks associated with these diseases late in the development of the risk analysis, there remains uncertainty as to their presence or absence in New Zealand and their susceptibility to the proposed heat treatment.

MAF will therefore undertake surveillance to determine the presence or absence of N. ceranae and IAPV in New Zealand. Work will also begin on a supplementary risk analysis for these organisms to help make decisions on their management should they prove not to be present in New Zealand.

This work programme, while potentially taking up to two years to complete, may be completed sooner.

Honey imports from Australia will not resume until this work is completed and the IHS is able to be reassessed in the light of the results of this work.

The full independent panel report is available at: http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/imports/animals/standards/beeproic.aus.htm

For further information, contact:

Judith Hamblyn, Senior Communications Adviser 04 894 0687 or 029 894 0687

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