MAF Biosecurity New Zealand holds meeting to discuss methyl bromide alternatives

28 February 2008

Twenty eight possible alternatives to the ozone depleting gas methyl bromide came under scrutiny yesterday as over 90 government and industry representatives met in Wellington to review the alternatives to methyl bromide use at our borders.

Advice was also given by experts from the USA and Australia.

Quarantine and pre-shipment use of methyl bromide is allowed under the Montreal Protocol but all countries are being encouraged to reduce use.

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand Import Standards Group Manager Clive Gower-Collins said currently some $320M in forest product trade relies on fumigation with methyl bromide for market access, and New Zealand's own biosecurity status also relies on methyl bromide to kill bugs on imports.

"Today represented a step forward in indentifying a replacement - one that would be acceptable to New Zealand's trading partners while meeting our own biosecurity needs", Mr Gower-Collins said.

"Keeping in mind that any treatment, used as an alternative to methyl bromide, is likely to give rise to either economic, health and safety, biosecurity or other environmental issues today's meeting was extremely useful in deciding where to from here."

Mr Gower-Collins said the meeting endorsed the work of the Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction (STIMBR) working group which had been recently formed to ensure industry and government co-ordination and the development of a comprehensive response strategy. STIMBR has implemented a voluntary levy on each kilo of gas used to help fund the search for alternatives. f STIMBR Chair Dr Gordon Hosking welcomed the support but said that more research money was urgently needed.

MAFBNZ is also collaborating with fellow USA, Australian and Canadian officials in investigating alternative treatments.

For further information, please contact:

Annie Wright - Senior Communications Adviser on 04 894 0654 or 029 894 0654

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