19 Nov 2010

Minister fends off pollen claims

5:36 am on 19 November 2010

Biosecurity Minister David Carter has fended off a call by Federated Farmers for an immediate ban on pollen imports.

Federated Farmers says there is a strong possibility the PSA kiwifruit vine disease got into New Zealand in imports.

Biosecurity and bee industry spokesperson John Hartnell says large amounts of kiwifruit pollen have been imported from China and Chile to supplement the natural pollination carried out in orchards by bees.

Mr Hartnell contends that the imported pollen is not being adequately checked for plant or bee diseases it may be carrying.

But Mr Carter told Federated Farmers national council on Thursday those sorts of claims are premature and unhelpful.

Mr Hartnell has written to MAF Biosecurity as well as Mr Carter to raise his concerns.

He says a bee disease called chalk brood was introduced to Australia through pollen imported from China.