Applying for general release or release with controls
Completing the application forms
Section 6: Pathway determination and rapid assessment (release; Section 8 for release with controls)
Section 6B 6.4 is relevant to biological control agents. It provides for new organisms (excluding GMOs) that can be shown to highly unlikely not to establish self-sustaining populations anywhere in New Zealand, and that fully meet Section 36 Minimum Standards. This type of rapid assessment has not been applied for or implemented to date for a biological control agent, but it is not inconceivable that it could be in the future. For example, a biological control agent intended for glasshouse use, that can be shown incapable of surviving outside of that environment, could qualify for rapid assessment, as long as it also met all Minimum Standards.
Section 6: Proposed controls (release with controls)There are a number of reasons why an applicant might want to propose controls. These can only be imposed if the intention is to mitigate risks which have been noted in Section 5. Controls can include provenance of the biological control agent, so future importations will be restricted to a particular country or region. The reason for this might be to ensure that agents will have the same host range characteristics as those that have been tested in containment. An example of this is the approval for the Irish biotype of Microctonus aethiopoides for biological control of Sitona obsoletus (previously known as Sitona lepidus). Not only do the controls specify that further imports must come from Ireland, but also that they need to be demonstrated to be parthenogenetic. The following is taken from 'Appendix 1 Control' of the Decision document:
All individual Microctonus aethiopoides being assessed for parthenogenesis should be derived from or reared from Sitona lepidus collected in the field in Ireland. Each individual parasitoid should be exposed to 30-40 Sitona Lepidus weevils for 48 hours in cages furnished with white clover. All M. aethiopoides progeny derived from this exposure to S. lepidus should be female, the gender having been determined by microscopic examination using the descriptions of Loan 1975. Determination of parthenogenesis shall be verified for at least two consecutive generations. Where parthenogenesis is determined in New Zealand, as opposed to overseas, testing should be done in a containment facility registered according to the MAF/ERMA New Zealand Standard 154.02.08.
The reason for the control relating to parthenogenesis is that previous research (Goldson et al. 2003) had shown that hybridization between M. aethiopoides from Morocco, which was a sexually reproducing biotype introduced to control Sitona discoideus, with other European strains, compromised the efficacy of both biological control agents. So a parthenogenetic strain avoided this possibility. See more information on this.
Section 7: Other information (release; Section 9 for release with controls)
This section provides an opportunity for applicants to provide any further information that will assist with the application, for example any ethical consideration. It is recommended that applicants discuss this with EPA staff to see whether there is any relevant information that could be provided here.
Goldson S.L., McNeill M.R. and Proffitt J.R. (2003). Negative effects of strain hybridisation on the biocontrol agent Microctonus aethiopoides. New Zealand Plant Protection 57: 138-142.