New Zealand Pork Farmers Want Tougher Rules

NEW ZEALAND - New Zealand pig farmers who say a deadly pig disease could arrive in the country in imports of raw meat are arguing for a very conservative scientific view to enforce protectionism, a judge has been told.
calendar icon 25 August 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

A lawyer for the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry (MAF), deputy solicitor-general Cheryl Gwyn, said New Zealand's trade obligations were one of the factors, along with scientific evidence about the disease porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, that MAF had took into account in setting new rules for raw pork imports.

MAF thought the risk was about a one in 1227 year chance of the disease appearing in New Zealand because of raw pork imports if cuts were kept to consumer-ready pieces up to 3kg. The size of the cuts should minimise the risk of raw trimmings finding there way into food scraps fed to pigs, MAF said.

Pigs are not supposed to be fed waste food but the New Zealand Pork Industry Board, which represents pig farmers, believes it still happens.

In the High Court at Wellington this week the board is challenging MAF's rules on approving raw pork imports.

According to The Dominion Post, the board is criticising the process of consulation and risk assessment undertaken in developing the rules.

The disease does not affect humans and cooking and curing makes it inactive. Ms Gwyn said over time its potency reduced in slaughtering, chilling, freezing, and storing.

New Zealand is one of the few countries with a developed pork industry that does not have the disease, which can kill unborn and young pigs.

Ms Gwyn said overseas studies did not agree on whether the disease could be spread by pigs eating infected meat. The main way it was spread was by direct contact with an infected animal or pig keeping equipment, or using semen from infected boars in the artificial insemination process.

She told a judge today that New Zealand producers were arguing for a very conservative view of the science about the disease. However, New Zealand's trade obligations meant the science could not be overstated to enforce what was in reality protectionism.

The case is continuing.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on PRRS by clicking here.

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