Smith Says Information on RCD Spread Required Urgently

  • Dr Lockwood Smith

Agriculture Minister Lockwood Smith has instructed the Ministry of Agriculture to provide the Government with urgent advice on whether RCD is spreading naturally in the South Island. "The Government can in no way condone the illegal importation of the virus.

But the fact that it is now here does change the situation and we need urgent information on whether it's spreading and how rapidly it's spreading." Dr Smith said that if the virus was spreading naturally from rabbit to rabbit then one of the main reasons for not introducing it was no longer valid.

"The report on the introduction of RCD concluded that it posed low levels of risk to New Zealand but that with the lack of knowledge as to how it spread, there could be no certainty that it would be effective." Dr Smith said that he expected the Minister for Biosecurity to have the necessary information in the next few days to advise the Government on the appropriate response to the RCD outbreak.

In the meantime, Dr Smith said that the Department of Conservation was reviewing its contingency plans for dealing with any consequent predator-switch should the Government decide that the virus could now be utilised.