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Labour wants PKE ship sent back

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/10/2016

Palm kernels © Bloomberg Palm kernels A ship carrying palm kernel extract (PKE) that's been barred from entering New Zealand for nearly a month should be sent back to Malaysia, says Labour's biosecurity spokesman Damien O'Connor.

The MV Molat, which is carrying more than 23,000 tonnes of PKE, was due to arrive in Tauranga on September 6 but couldn't get permission to dock from officials. It has been sitting offshore.

The PKE on board is from an unregistered supplier in Malaysia, Mr O'Connor says.

It's a potential biosecurity hazard risk to New Zealand and the ship should be sent back.

"Unregistered suppliers do not have to meet the stringent safety checks that registered suppliers do, to ensure there is no biosecurity risk to New Zealand. In this case, we do not know what checks were applied," he says.

Foot and mouth disease contamination is possible from such imports, he says.

"The risks are high and we should take no chances," Mr O'Connor says.

A decision on what will happen to the ship is due in days, Radio New Zealand reports.

In August Greenpeace NZ welcomed a decision by state-owned farm manager Landcorp to stop using PKE.

"Greenpeace has been campaigning for seven years for a phase-out of PKE on New Zealand farms, due to its role in both tropical rainforest destruction and industrial dairying" said Grant Rosoman from Greenpeace.

PKE is a by-product of the palm oil industry, which is the leading cause of rainforest destruction in Indonesia.

New Zealand is currently the largest importer of PKE, using about a quarter of the world's supply each year as supplementary feed for livestock. On some farms, it's believed to make up nearly 50 per cent of cows' diets, Greenpeace has said.

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