Biosecurity Minister Warns Against Attempted Illegal Introduction Of RCD

  • Simon Upton

Any attempt by farmers to take matters into their own hands and smuggle RCD into the country would be a terrible mistake, the Minister for Biosecurity, Hon Simon Upton said today.

"While I can understand the sheer frustration farmers of rabbit prone land must feel, the fact remains that by breaking the law and attempting to import the disease illegally they would only make things worse.

"In practical terms, an illegal and haphazard introduction could throw away our first and best chance to use RCD. As Dr Peter O'Hara has stressed, virtually nothing is known about how the virus spreads or how human intervention may assist it. If RCD is ever approved in the future, its initial impact is likely to be the most potent. If the best science and best planning are not applied to such a release then an effective tool could be

"Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, RCD smuggling could seriously undermine wider public support for New Zealand's biosecurity system.

"Taxpayers in general spend tens of millions of dollars each year protecting agriculture and other primary industries from pests. Farmers are very quick to highlight areas where they think not enough is being done to protect them against unwanted organisms. They can't have it both ways.

"If farmers want to ensure continued taxpayer support for biosecurity they would be wise to respect the current decision of the Ministry of Agriculture.

"The government recognises the financial difficulties facing the worst affected land owners. Over the next few weeks we will reconsider the government's share of rabbit control costs. There may be a case for some further public funding of rabbit control, although the government has already stated that it does not accept that taxpayers should be the primary funder of rabbit control on private land," concluded Mr Upton.