Routine border checks detect unwanted fruit disease

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Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended fresh melon imports from Queensland following a border detection of an unwanted fruit disease.

Biosecurity New Zealand detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) following routine border testing on Friday of a consignment of watermelons from Queensland Australia, says Peter Thomson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s plants and pathways director.

CGMMV does not pose a risk to human health. It affects cucurbit fruit, including watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin.

If introduced to New Zealand, it could have a serious impact on local production of cucurbit crops. The virus can deform young leaves and damage fruit.

“The detection shows New Zealand’s biosecurity system in action,” says Mr Thomson.

“There is no suggestion the disease is in New Zealand. As a precautionary measure, Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended imports of fresh cucurbit fruit from Queensland.”

The suspension currently affects several melon consignments that have been placed on hold at the border. We are working with importers to determine whether or not their product will be able to enter the New Zealand market.

“We are also working closely with Australian authorities who have agreed to not issue export certificates for any new consignments until they have investigated the situation and taken corrective measures,” says Mr Thomson.

“The length of the suspension will depend on how quickly Australian authorities can investigate the situation and put measures in place to assure New Zealand that their product is free from the disease.”

“The import season for water, honey, and rock melons from Australia ends shortly. This will reduce any impact of the suspension for New Zealand consumers.”

The suspension does not currently affect imports of fresh cucurbit species from other Australian states.

Fact sheet on cucumber green mottle mosaic virus – Vegetables New Zealand

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