Member of parliament Sue Kedgley from New Zealand’s Green Party said the import was a dangerous risk, pointing out several bacteria and 16 fungal pathogens which could not be detected by border quarantine procedures, reported Voxy.co.nz.
There are also concerns low-priced Chinese onions will undercut New Zealand’s own onion industry, which produced 245,000 tonnes in 2007/08, of which 66 per cent was exported.
Ms Kedgley made a submission to the draft IRA, which closed on Friday. The IRA discusses various risk mitigation methods, including import only from pest-free designated areas and methyl bromide fumigation.
“Why would New Zealand allow onions to be imported when they could have devastating consequences for our onion and other horticultural industry, and provide no benefit to New Zealand,” she said.
“Allowing cheap onions from China into New Zealand would inevitably undermine our onion industry, in the same way that cheap garlic from China decimated our garlic industry. Why would the Government promote policies that will undermine important local industries in New Zealand?
“In the absence of mandatory country of origin labelling of fresh produce in New Zealand, many consumers would not be able to work out whether the onions they buy are from China or New Zealand.”
Onions are currently imported to New Zealand from Japan, the US and Australia, but generally come to less than 1,000 tonnes in total.