Frequently Asked Questions

Could didymo spread to lakes throughout New Zealand?

Yes. Although didymo prefers a river environment with clear water flowing over stable substrate at depths sufficient for light penetration to drive photosynthesis, blooms have been found in South Island Lakes. Lake Wakatipu, for example, contains visible didymo on some parts of the lake shore.

Is GM lucerne OK to eat?

GM lucerne/alfalfa was approved by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) in July 2005 for wide-scale cultivation. In the same year it was assessed and approved for human food in Canada and Mexico in 2005, and in 2006, Japan.

Although GM lucerne/alfalfa is intended primarily as an animal feed, its safety for human consumption has also been assessed in case some inadvertently enters the human food supply.

Food produced from Roundup-ready corn, soybean, canola and sugar beet, which all contain the same modified gene as GM lucerne, have already been approved as safe for consumption by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). FSANZ are currently conducting an initial assessment of GM lucerne as food, and if it is approved for human consumption, all products containing GM must be labelled as genetically modified in accordance with the Australia New Zealand Food Safety Code, Food Standard 1.5.2. This provides consumers with choice as to whether or not they purchase foods containing GM ingredients.

For any questions about food safety, please contact the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (offsite link to

New Zealand Food Safety Authority
68-86 Jervois Quay
PO Box 2835

If I see something I think is didymo, what should I do?

If you see something you suspect is didymo in an unaffected river, please report the location of the find to the Ministry for Primary Industries on 0800 809 966.

Is mail coming to New Zealand also checked?

Quarantine Officers, assisted by an X-ray machine and detector dog, inspect all parcels entering New Zealand at the International Mail Centre. There are regular interceptions of risk goods, which include fresh produce, seeds, plants and straw items. Recipients of restricted items are given the option of having goods treated and returned to them at their expense.

When will implementation of the surveillance strategy begin?

When submissions close, we will review and update the strategy. Once the goals to achieve have been agreed and the final version of the strategy is completed, MAFBNZ will develop a plan of action to meet the goals in the strategy. This will involve prioritising actions and developing a timeline. As a major component of the strategy involves working together, we will seek comment from those with a role or interest in biosecurity surveillance, and work with them to make it happen. The Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy aims to meet the goals by 2020, so we anticipate that actions will be staged over the next ten years.

What do I need to do if I want to use the Inbound Messaging system?

Your software will need to be updated. You will need to talk with your software supplier who will discuss the requirements with ECN.

I sell glueboards. How will the new regulations affect me?

Until 31 December 2014, you will be able to continue to sell glueboards. After that date, you will not be able to sell glueboards unless you have applied for and have been granted an approval from the Minister of Agriculture. Please note that the regulations prohibit use by anyone not in the categories specified in the Order.

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.

We have an import permit but our departure has been delayed. Do we need a new import permit?

Import permits for dogs and cats are valid for 10 days from the scheduled date of arrival. Pets can be imported anytime between the entry date and expiration date listed on the permit, as long as the animal meets all of the requirements.

If your pet will be arriving earlier than the entry date or later than the expiration date listed on the import permit, you will need to apply for a new import permit.

Will this change in the wood packaging standard change the role of accredited persons?

Yes it does change their role. Accredited persons should still be inspecting all wood packaging for pest such as insects and fungi but they must also record the ISPM 15 compliance status of the wood packaging on their container log sheets.

We recommend that non-compliant wood packaging be treated or destroyed.

How does varroa spread internationally?

There is an international trade in live bees. Queen bees are shipped world-wide, and are believed to be responsible for the spread of the mite to both North and South America, and Africa. New Zealand has not permitted bee imports for many years, but does export live bees.