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Varroa Chemical Put On Hold

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

16 October 2008 - The Environmental Risk Management Authority has declined an application from Bayer New Zealand Ltd to import Checkmite+ for release to control varroa mite in beehives.

In its decision, released today, the Authority said it had not banned Checkmite+ and a future reassessment may be warranted if circumstances changed.

ERMA New Zealand's Hazardous Substances General Manager Andrea Eng said the major factor leading to the Authority declining the application had been the lack of verified benefits of the substance compared to the risks. It had therefore taken a precautionary approach.

"Checkmite+ contains coumaphos, an organophosphate, reported to produce persistent residues in honey, beeswax, and the hive environment," Ms Eng said.

"There are several other varroacides on the market. For now, the Authority's concerns about the immediate risks posed by Checkmite+ outweighed the comparatively small potential benefit of being able to use it should varroa mite develop resistance to one or more of the alternatives currently available."

In its decision, the Authority also recommended that the beekeeping industry monitor effectiveness of currently-available varroacides; that the industry work to improve beekeepers' understanding of resistance management; and that there be further research into management of varroa mite.

The Authority considered that a future reassessment of Checkmite+ may be warranted if there was evidence of increased resistance in varroa mites to the currently available treatments, or robust evidence that Checkmite+ can be used without producing persistent residues in honey, beeswax or hive equipment.

The application to import Checkmite+ was originally received in 2006 but was inactive between 2006 and 2008 to allow the applicant to conduct contained trials.

It was reopened in January 2008 and submissions sought. Seven submissions were received; one in favour of importation of the substance and six against. The latter included the two national bodies that represent beekeepers in New Zealand and honey producers and exporters.

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