Is NZ's Bio Security up to the Task?Wednesday, Nov 29, 2000
The impact of new reports of BSE being identified in livestock in France, Germany and Spain high lights
the grave responsibility that rests on the scientific community and politicians as they try to
ensure the correct steps are taken to prevent or limit the damage the continuing outbreak will have
on producers and consumers of beef.
While the initial reaction of BCE free countries is to stop the import of product from the infected
countries the continuing outbreak has the potential to change demand for beef products. With the net
affect that consumer everywhere may avoid beef and in many instances all red meat consumption.
There will be nothing good for NZ farmers in this BSE scare. As should the publicity on the problem
continue more consumers will avoid red meat due to the unclear picture being presented by the authorities
about its risks and control.
In a year where lamb prices are indicating a good farm gate return adverse consumer reaction to all
red meat is the last thing wanted by producers.
BSE seems to be caused by the application of industrial production techniques to the production of stock
feeds. Not a choice by farmers but the result of feed manufacturers sourcing lowest cost protein
inputs from unsupervised sources. But once again farmers seem to be being held responsible for
something beyond their control.
Marion Hobbs has accepted that her ministry has fallen short in their management of NZ's biosecurity
and is moving to shore things up. However the focus seems now to have moved to insects and reptiles
because the public can identify with visible intruders. However MAF must reassure NZ that they
are managing all risk across the border, and in our feed production processes - not just the visible
beetles, bugs and crawlies.