Friday, July 8, 2011

Aussie Fruit Still Has The Pip

One apoplectic Aussie is preparing an apple Alamo.
Opposition Agriculture spokesman John Cobb wants to introduce a last-minute Bill amending quarantine regulations on our apples, a move NZ orchardists call "political grandstanding".
Oz has had a 90yr. ban on NZ pipfruit and tree imports. Growers used allegations - that NZ apples could spread fireblight – as a trade barrier, but earlier this year the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled against them. The Oz federal govt has now struck a deal to bring in the fruit, but Apple and Pear Australia is still bleating for tighter quarantine and quality checks.
The fireblight effect
I’m amazed the fireblight concerns are still being raised, when NZ scientific research by Chris Hale at HortResearch has already shown it’s very difficult to infect apples with the disease (even when deliberately inoculated!).
Fireblight’s found in America, Canada and much of Europe. NZ is the only Southern Hemisphere country where it’s been recorded. But there’s scientific evidence that Oz has had fireblight for decades (even though not formally reported). Chris Hale found fireblight in Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens back in 1997, and brought samples back here for testing. And another NZ scientist reported fireblight in Adelaide's botanic gardens.
However, even at the 11th.hour, it seems Johnny Cobb will only accept scientific data if it originates in Oz: "To expect us to simply take NZ's word on everything is not realistic. We do have the right to use acceptable scientific protocols." And if the gathering of said data took another 90 years, Mr Cobb would've been very happy!
But that ain’t a happenin’ thang: the apple battle has finally gone the same way as the trans-Tasman pavlova war!
Now, about trying to block our wine
PS: 17 Aug.2011 - Oz finally opens the door!

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