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Consultation On Bridal Creeper Rust

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

3 July 2008 - ERMA New Zealand is gathering information about a proposal to legalise bridal creeper rust, Puccinia myrsiphylli, a fungus disease that attacks the unwanted weed bridal creeper (Asparagus asparagoides).

Bridal creeper rust was introduced to Australia in 2000 as a biological control agent for bridal creeper. The same strain released in Australia has been found in New Zealand, probably blown here by the wind.

Landcare Research has requested that bridal creeper rust be classified as "not a new organism" under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act Regulations. The application is open to submissions from interested parties until 7 August 2008.

Dr Geoff Ridley of ERMA said bridal creeper is a perennial vine that can grow up to 3 m in height. It is a serious weed in several countries. In New Zealand, it is a problem in many natural and productive areas in the northern regions of the North Island and is continuing to spread.

Landcare Research wants to carry out research to assess the effectiveness of bridal creeper rust as a biological control agent for bridal creeper in New Zealand. In addition, weed management groups want to further encourage the rust in places where it is currently found, and introduce the rust to places it hasn't yet reached - including infestations of bridal creeper in the South Island.

Because the Australian strain of bridal creeper rust arrived in New Zealand after 29 July 1998 it is considered to be a 'new organism' under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

Even though the rust is already here, approvals would be required under the Act for any research, propagation or distribution of it.

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