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Company fined $5,500 after illegally released seeds sold

A Canterbury seed importing company and the operator of the company’s transitional facility were today sentenced to pay a total of $5,500 for illegally releasing contaminated seeds from the facility in November 2000.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) prosecuted Canterbury Seed Company Ltd and Mr. Adrian Bliss (transitional facility operator) after an incident where the company distributed the seeds without gaining biosecurity clearance. Mr Bliss was sentenced to pay a total of $1,100.

Judge Strettell handed down the sentence in the Christchurch District Court.

The company imported the consignment of 500 kg of Phacelia (balo) from Hungary. Balo plants attract hover flies for aphid control and the balo seeds are also used for cosmetics production.

Subsequently, two paddocks of a balo (an oil seed crop) that were planted on behalf of the company in Ashburton and Darfield had to be destroyed by MAF after the crops were found to contain two species of weed not previously found in New Zealand.

"These weeds are considered to be serious weeds in arable crops in Europe and Africa," said Jockey Jensen, MAF Biosecurity Authority Special Investigation Group.

"Should weeds like this become established in New Zealand they could pose a substantial threat to the agricultural sector.

"Canterbury Seed Company Ltd has been importing seeds for many years and is well aware of MAF’s requirements for importing seeds," said Mr Jensen.

At the time of the incident, MAF also suspended the operator’s approval to run the transitional facility and subsequently removed the company’s ability to operate a facility of this type.




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