PKE brings biosecutiry risk

04/11/2009

Federated Farmers has been questioning the biosecurity risk from imports of Palm Kernel Extract  for some time and Rural News reports that risk has now been officially recognised.

Foot and mouth disease could reach New Zealand in palm kernel but steps are finally being taken to close down the pathway, says Federated Farmers.

Biosecurity spokesman John Hartnell says he understands Biosecurity NZ is working with its Australian counterpart to tackle what it now admits is a gap in the current import health standard.

‘There is a big hole in the process and that’s the time the product sits on the ground between when it leaves the crusher and when it is loaded on the boat.

Greenpeace has been campaigning against PKE imports on environmental grounds. The biosecuirty risk is far more serious.

The current import health standard relies on heating during oil extraction, rendering the meal sterile, but meal is often stored before shipment, sometimes on bare earth.

That provides a window for insect infestation and, worse still, contamination with potential foot and mouth disease bearing material such as soil or animal remains, says Hartnell.

That risk might be small but it is not something we can afford to ignore.

The detection of atypical scrapie (also known as Nor 98) in a single sheep’s brain last week almost went unnoticed. MAF was upfront about it, explained how it was detected and the implications of the find, including most importantly that it doesn’t change our scrapie-free status.

Even a false alarm about Foot & Mouth disease would be far more serious. The hoax letter sent in 2005 which said the disease was on Waiheke Island, caused a dip in the dollar and threatened exports.

No matter how cheap PKE is, unless it can be guaranteed foot and mouth free it is too expensive.


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