Green Party concerned it will impact human health, and our exports.
Kiwifruit growers in the areas badly effected by the disease PSA will soon be spraying their vines with antibiotics. A move that has some growers and the Green Party concerned it will impact human health, and our exports. But the kiwifruit vine health board says it is a necessary measure. Kiwifruit grower Bruce Hutchinson has lost everything. There was hope for a block that was disease free on Friday but today he is without a single healthy plant. “In this last block we have symptoms and it looks like we'll have to carry on and cut the complete orchard out,” he says. Spring has seen a big increase in infected vines. Two hundred and twenty eight orchards now have the most serious PSA-V strain.
So the group charged with controlling the disease has decided that an antibiotic spray will be used as a protectant on vines. “We have nearly 50 percent of gold orchards infected in the Te Puke area, and we're getting an increase in the number of infections by about 20 infections a week,” says John Burke from Kiwifruit Vine Health Incorporated. The European Union does not allow residues of antibiotics in imported fruit. Zespri says it will make sure there will be no residue on exports but Independent Kiwifruit Growers Association are not convinced. “If there is accidental residue in the fruit, who is going to pay for that fruit, how is that going to be disposed of? A lot of the growers are struggling financially, the last thing they need is for their fruit to have zero return,” says Chris Dunn from IKGA. A small amount of streptomycin is allowed on kiwifruit sold domestically but because it is used in human medicine there are concerns it will effect human health. “It is unwise to be spreading it around the environment. It will lead to antibiotic resistance,” says Green MP Sue Kedgely. But Mr Hutchinson says he is ready to try anything now that he has to build up his business all over again.