Added by Annika L. Krugel on March 2, 2011
Australian food supply could be threatened if the Asian honey bee is not eradicated, the Greens said on Wednesday.
Christine Milne, Greens senator, told reporters that the Asian honey bee – termed the cane toad of the 21st century – could severely damage Australia’s honey industry as well as the wider agricultural sector if measures are not taken to eradicate it.
“We actually need the federal government to step up to the plate to mount a major eradication effort,” Milne said.
Earlier this year a decision was made to stop eradication efforts, and funding is due to expire at the end of April.
“The decision the national management group has made reflects a scientific assessment of the feasibility of eradication,” Sustainability Minister Tony Burke, representing Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, told Parliament on Wednesday.
Lindsay Bourke, Australian Honey Bee Industry Council chairman, however, called the decision “premature” and Milne said the $5 million eradication programme needs to be reinstated to protect the $50-80 million honey industry and the $4 billion worth of crops that are pollinated by honey bees.
The Asian honey bees, believed to have arrived on a ship from Papua New Guinea in 2007, compete for floral resources with the managed European honey bees, who are now at threat of dying from starvation as they are also being robbed of their hives.
More, Asian honey bees are hosts to another major threat to Australia’s honey bee industry, the varroa mite.