Zespri has reportedly asked a former judge and commercial arbitrator to investigate claims that a “board member” of the New Zealand company has been involved in the 'illegal' planting of a new gold kiwifruit variety.
As Fruitnet previously reported, several growers whose orchards have been affected by Psa-V vine disease are understood to have grafted Zespri’s new gold G3 variety to trees on around 13ha of land, despite the new kiwifruit still being at a trial phase.
The G3 variety is being tested as a possible replacement for the previously widely-cultivated Hort 16A gold variety, which has proven to be highly susceptible to the Psa-V bacterial disease.
With Psa-V currently hitting the multi-billon dollar industry hard, desperate growers are believed to have resorted to planting the unlicensed new variety, prompting a stern response from Zespri, which said it would vigorously defend its intellectual property.
Zespri has now reportedly appointed Sir Peter Trapski, a commercial arbitrator and former judge, to examine the allegations, which Waikato Times has claimed concern Zespri’s deputy chairman Peter McBridge.
According to the publication, McBridge’s brother, Murray, is alleged to have grafted unlicensed G3 in a large orchard in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty.