In this section
Many of the plants and animals that have been purposely introduced to New Zealand in the past have become pests. So before we release a new biological control agent, approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is needed. In order to get their approval, we have to do a lot of studies to ensure that the agent won’t become a pest in its own right, and that the benefits of introduction outweigh any risks. That means testing whether the agent will attack desirable plants like native species or crops, making sure it isn’t carrying any diseases, and evaluating any other unwanted interactions it might have. The results of all these studies are included in an application for approval from EPA. The application then goes through a public comment period, in which anyone can read the application and say what they think about it. To get involved and have your say see Current Applications and Approval to Release.
Although this process can take a long time (it often takes years), it ensures we aren’t creating one pest problem trying to get rid of another.
Until we have permission to release a new biocontrol agent, we have to keep it securely contained. To do that, we have special facilities designed to prevent escape− like a maximum security prison for bugs.
Our invertebrate containment facility at Lincoln has special climate controlled rooms where insects can be reared and studied. Only authorised staff are allowed inside. Different insects are kept separate from one another, and researchers wear protective clothing to avoid transmitting any pathogens between insects or out of the building. Even the rubbish and waste water is treated to kill any insects or pathogens it might contain. The facility and our procedures are regularly inspected by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to ensure they meet the regulatory standards. The facility also has climate controlled rooms outside the containment section where biocontrol agents approved for release can be mass reared.
A pathogen containment facility is currently being built in Auckland, the first of its kind in New Zealand.
Opening of the Beever Plant Pathogen Containment Facility
Landcare Research staff and invited guests gather to celebrate the opening of the new Plant Pathogen Containment Facility. The only one of its kind in New Zealand the state of the art facility has been named after eminent scientists Jessica and the late Ross Beever.