Disease fears behind pork import opposition

images (2) The board representing New Zealand pig farmers says concern about a potentially devastating disesase, not a protectionist agenda, is behind its opposition to raw pork imports.

In the High Court at Wellington today, the New Zealand Pork Industry Board began its attempt to overturn a decision allowing some imports of consumer-ready cuts from countries with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome.

New Zealand is one of the few countries where the pig population does not have the virus which causes abortions, still births, and can kill young pigs.

The disease does not affect humans but it is contagious and is believed to be spread when pigs eat infected raw pork.

Of concern was the number of amateurs raising pigs in New Zealand, and how many fed pigs from "pig bins" of scraps and did not comply with rules that say pigs should not be fed raw pork, the board’s lawyer Francis Cooke, QC, told the court.

The board did not have a "protectionist agenda", Cooke said.

Concerns about the disease and the way the risk had been analysed were obvious.

The Agriculture and Forestry Ministry said the risk could be managed by limiting the size of individual cuts to 3kg, which would reduce the risk of cuts being trimmed before cooking and the trimmings finding their way into pig feed.

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