Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Weekend Compendium

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  • AThrift,

    Excellent piece of journalism, gave a good insight into a very important story. It's a
    pity he doesn't work for TV3; we would have been spared their top story at 6 last night which involved Valerie Adams selling her latest book for five minutes.

    Wellington • Since May 2011 • 9 posts Report

  • Susan Snowdon,

    The thing not being talked about is that the risk has been known for over 30 years. Green kiwifruit is all ONE genotype, they are all clones.

    Bananas have the same problem. There's a book about it. One day there will be a banana apocalypse.

    Since Mar 2008 • 110 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    Does anyone recall seeing any media that said that the pollen importing company was right next door to the first orchard that got PSA????

    Hearing that comment in the Media 3 piece was the first time I had heard of it.

    Looking through the report I linked to above I find this:

    From paragraphs 95 to 100 are staggering. It speaks of the paper that was cited as suggesting that pollen did not carry bacteria. I note with intense interest the following:

    96. MAF advises that typically such papers are only subject to internal review, but on this occasion it was also sent for peer review to a professor of plant pathology at Auckland University. Early on in the process of peer review it became clear that there might be an interest in the paper being published in an academic journal. As such the Biosecurity New Zealand header was removed from the paper and it became a ‘manuscript’ that was subsequently accepted for publication by the journal, Australasian Plant Pathology. An early draft of the paper (retaining the letterhead and not reflecting many subsequent changes) was placed on MAF’s electronic file classification system.

    97. There was only one sentence in the paper that covered the risk of pollen transmission of bacteria. In an initial draft that sentence read, “[t]here are no known bacteria or mollicutes that are pollen transmitted (Nemeth, 1986b). However, by the time the fourth draft of the paper had been circulated the sentence had been amended to read “There are no pollen-transmitted bacteria.

    98. In our view the authors’ position that pollen could not transmit bacteria was unnecessarily definitive in light of the available evidence. We note that the original position that there was ‘no known’ pollen-transmitted bacteria was considerably strengthened through the editing process without any new material coming to light;
    the final paper omits the qualifier that the authors are only recounting the views of another author (Nemeth); and the sole reference for the authors’ views on bacteria was a scientific paper that was over 20 years old by the time their paper was
    published. The published version of the paper also contained the same unqualified statement that bacteria cannot be transmitted by pollen.

    99. In an interview one of the authors stated that, while the paper examined a wide range of pathogens transmitted by pollen, the clear focus of the paper was on viruses and viroids. The paper was never intended to provide a comprehensive examination of the risks associated with pollen (let alone with kiwifruit pollen) but was rather a literature review intended to serve as an input into a more formal risk analysis. The sole sentence on bacteria was included for completeness and the deletion of the qualifier (“no known bacteria…”) regarding bacteria-transmission was because pollentransmission of bacteria was considered a peripheral issue to the main focus of the paper.

    100. These observations about the relatively narrow scope of the scientific paper are supported by some reservations expressed at the time by the Risk Analysis Team regarding the content of the paper.

    • “What about other diseases and pests?? Or is this just a review of viruses with the rest tacked on bit [sic] with little regard as the author is a virologist?”

    • “This report is a summary of information rather than an analysis.”

    • In response to an earlier draft that noted that there were reports of bacteria and fungi being found on pollen a Senior Advisor from the Risk Analysis Team commented, “What all this shows is that pollen can be contaminated by fungi (and bacteria) and as such pollen can act as a vector of fungi and bacteria.”

    Dare I suggest that the publish or perish requisites for personal advancement took a bit of a hit here???

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • DexterX,

    All power to Colin the cat for the pursuit of a contrivance where outputs far exceeded any discernable input.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report

  • Ben Austin,

    My I post my annual dissatisfaction that the NZ weather is starting to look glorious about the time London's weather falls off the cliff.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Mark Graham,

    This seems to be a part of active management of media by Govt, Depts in trying to hide issues – witness the red herrings brought up at MSD around hackers after Keith’s uncovering of the fiasco and Auckland Harbour co and MSD release of personal information around the protesters against their actions.

    It's of the "I have an MBA from Harvard, I'm too smart to screw up!" school of pseudo-meritocracy that Chris Hayes has nailed in Twilight of the Elites. He might as well write his next book about NZ.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to Russell Brown,

    This post is the shit Russell, lots of goodies in there.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

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