Submissions to EPA on grass-protecting fungus close next week

Submissions on the approval of a special plant fungus that can protect host pasture grass will close with the Environmental Protection Authority on Monday.

The EPA announced in February an application had been made, seeking approval to import and release Neotyphodium siegelii, an endophytic fungus that lives within ryegrass.

The NZ Plant Breeding and Research Association (see here) is urging the EPA to seriously consider and approve the importation and release of N. siegilli.

An EPA discussion document (here) says the endophytic fungus is thought to contribute to ryegrass and fescue persistence, protecting the plants from invertebrate pests and
drought. >

The discussion document was produced by EPA staff to facilitate the submission making process.

It discusses the information provided in the application and other readily available sources and was aimed at stimulating discussion around the topic.

The NZ Plant Breeding and Research Association media statement says Neotyphium siegelii is a novel endophyte which could be of significant benefit to New Zealand pastoral farmers.

It says endophytes were first introduced to New Zealand in the 1990s and…

novel or safe endophytes have since delivered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of improved pasture productivity and animal performance to the agricultural economy.

New Zealand is a world leader in development and adoption of endophyte technology for pastoral production.

NZPBRA general manager Thomas Chin says N.siegelii is permitted for use in Australia, South America and the United States, and New Zealand farmers could be at a disadvantage if it is not permitted for use here.

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