There is concern that if New Zealand apples are imported again, the quarantine measures recommended to ensure that they do not carry the fire blight disease will include cleaning the fruit with a chemical currently banned in Australia.

After its decision to grant import licences to New Zealand, Biosecurity America (BA) was blamed by the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association (AAPGA) for failing in its duty to protect the domestic industry. In a submission to the Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee yesterday, the AAPGA reveal that BA’s approval for the imports is flawed at least ten ways, not least in its recommendation of antibiotic streptomycin. Streptomycin is banned from agricultural use in Australia in case it enters the food chain.

BA argue that its recommendations for imports and quarantine were devised with international experts, but domestic growers are still concerned as to the devastating effects of fire blight, which is currently present in some New Zealand orchards.

The APPGA commented: “Setting several alarming and unacceptable precedents for future import risk assessment processes is also a failure in duty of care to Australia.”