‘Massive disservice’ to flora and fauna
Refusing to consider promising tools for predator control was doing a massive disservice to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna, according to Federated Farmers environment spokesman Chris Allen.
This autumn’s ‘mega mast’ presented a huge challenge to pest control agencies and countless volunteers, he said, and the frequency of exceptionally heavy tree seeding events was likely to increase with climate change, but the government had called a halt on research on genetic engineering technologies.
The Department of Conservation is planning its biggest 1080 and trapping response (a $38 million programme covering about one million hectares) in an effort to combat the plague of rats, stoats and possums that would feast on native birds, bats, lizards, insects and trees when the plentiful seeds ran out.
“Spreading 1080 is acknowledged by scientists and thinking New Zealanders as the best tool we currently have in our fight to protect our biodiversity, but it’s by no means perfect. Nor will its availability continue to be guaranteed,” Mr Allen said.
‘Rapidly advancing genetic engineering techniques could well offer us much more effective pest control tools, as well as new ways of limiting greenhouse gases. New Zealand needs to get on with the job of proving if the technology can do the job effectively, with no unintended consequences.
“We should be doing this research now, to prove to New Zealanders there is another way to defeat pests, and to foster well-informed public debate on the safety and other aspects of GE.
“Instead, this government seems to be letting ideology overrule science. Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has not rescinded her instructions to Predator-free NZ to not be involved in any research to do with GE organisms and technologies such as CRISPR and gene editing.
“This is unhelpful, head-inthe-sand stuff. I can’t see New Zealand making a big leap toward meeting predator-free aspirations or our climate obligations with this government’s approach.”
Traditional pest control methods won’t save native species during the coming ‘mega mast’ according to Federated Farmers.