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A consignment of New Zealand apples has been rejected by Australian authorities.

Two shipments of apples to Australia have been rejected in the first weeks since New Zealand started shipping apples across the Tasman after Australian border control found the presence of leaf matter and these are the bearers of fire blight, according to the Australia Broadcasting Corp News online.

The report quoted South Australian Agriculture Minister Michael O’Brien saying: “I’ve been informed by the Apple and Pear Growers’ Association of South Australia that two consignments of New Zealand apples have already been knocked back by Australian quarantine officers.”

He said as well as leaf matter there was also an insect problem. As well as leaf matter, there was an insect problem.

The Australian Federal Department of Agriculture has released a statement confirming rejection of one shipment.

“This detection shows that Australia’s biosecurity officers have the skills to detect pests of potential concern even when present at very low levels and that the stringent import conditions are being rigorously enforced,” it said.

It confirmed the problem involved a “small piece of leaf matter and one insect”.

The Adelaide Hills, Riverland and south-east of South Australia have now been declared off-limits to foreign apples and pears.

South Australia has taken the decision in light of the lifting of the ban on New Zealand apple imports.

Australia has banned Kiwi apples and pears import since 1921 to protect local apple trees from fireblight. NZ has sought to regain access to the Australian market since 1986 and, after repeated attempts, took the dispute to the World Trade Organisation in 2007 and won on appeal last November

O’Brien said the local ban was aimed at protecting local orchards from the risk of disease, not restricting free trade.

A grower of organic apples says a declaration of quarantine areas in South Australia’s apple-growing regions is a great start, but needs to go further.

Chris McColl from Kalangadoo Organic Apples says fire blight still could be spread by birds or insects.

“If they’re still selling New Zealand apples in suburban Adelaide, it won’t be possible to sort of stop it eventually spreading to the Adelaide Hills or the south-east,” he said.

Biosecurity Australia said exporters would need to be registered and would have to monitor, spray and prune to guard against fire blight, European canker and apple leaf curling midge.

Source: ABC News

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