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New Zealand: Tomato rootstock seed imports resume

Tomato rootstock seed imports into New Zealand came to a halt in spring when MPI was notified that a hybrid rootstock seed parent species was not on their allowed imports list (the Plant Biosecurity Index or PBI).

TomatoesNZ agreed with MPI’s assessment that the hybrid did not pose a risk to NZ’s biosecurity, as the hybrid rootstock had been used in NZ for many years or even decades, and its exclusion from the PBI list was likely an oversight.

"Fortunately, and thanks to prudent management by the seed supplier De Ruiter, there was enough of the rootstock seed on hand in NZ to see the industry through for a few months", TomatoesNZ shares in a news release.

"Before imports could resume, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) needed to decide whether the species was present in NZ prior to the 1998 HASNO Act. We worked with the EPA and the seed company to show that it had been present for a long time."

On the 14th December 2018 the EPA issued its decision that the species was not “new to New Zealand”.

To get imports moving again the MPI Plant Imports Group prioritised adding the hybrid to the PBI and getting the paperwork in place for imports to resume as soon as possible, as by that time the seed supplies had run out. That process was completed on the 21st December and the all-clear given for imports to resume.

"Although this situation was unfortunate, it was very pleasing to have the support of MPI, the EPA and the seed company, who all worked to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible and avert a crisis that could have seen NZ growers without access to rootstock this year."

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