LATEST INFORMATION: As a group of apple and stonefruit industry members prepare for the Judicial Review, additional information relating to the MPI audit process of the CPCNW facility in the USA has come to light - casting significant questions over the basis of the MPI directive to contain and/or destroy plant material.
Speaking about this information Paul Paynter from The Yummy Fruit Company (part of Johnny Appleseed Holdings Limited) said, “We now know that MPI failed to conduct the required annual compliance audits on the CPCNW facility between 2010 and 2018.
“MPI has a duty to conduct these annual desktop audits, as well as five-yearly facility audits as part of their biosecurity responsibilities. The five-yearly audit was due to be conducted in mid 2015 and was not undertaken until March 2018, and even then it was not properly completed.
“MPI has let us all down. The orchardists and nursery men and women are not at fault here. The situations is clearly a result of MPI mismanagement and it’s the industry members who are paying the ultimate price.
“We have growers across the country pulling out innovative new varieties of apples, apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries and incinerating them because MPI has not done their job properly.
“We have evidence to show that MPI knew as early as December 2017 that there were discrepancies with documentation at CPCNW, and did not act on this information. They continued to process import permits.
“MPI waited until August 2018 before issuing a directive to contain and/or destroy all plant material imported into New Zealand dating back to their last completed audit in 2011/2012.
“We don’t believe MPI has reasonably considered the risks and costs of their actions, nor have the mitigation measures been nuanced to accommodate any consideration of risk in accordance with the varieties in question, or the import timing of the original plant material.
“Some of these plants have been in New Zealand for up to six years. They have been tested thoroughly and released from Post Entry Quarantine by MPI. There is no evidence of pest or disease, and there is nothing to show that these plants pose any biosecurity risk.
“If we believed there to be a risk of pest or disease, we would not be taking this legal action. We are all committed to maintaining the biosecurity of this industry - it is our livelihood and our future.
“We are asking for the MPI directive to contain and/or destroy the identified plant material to be overturned or at least modified,” Paul Paynter concluded.
DIARY NOTE: Please be aware that a time and date has been set for the Judicial Review in the High Court, Wellington. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Thursday 16 August and Friday 17 August 2018.