Ronny Groenteman

Ronny Groenteman is an entomologist, working in the field of biological control.

Since completing her PhD in ecology at the University of Canterbury in 2008 she has been a scientist with Landcare Research’s weed biocontrol group in the Biodiversity & Conservation Team. The group works on weeds at the environmental context as well as in the productive sector. Ronny’s main research interests are non-target effects and weed population dynamics.

She is also currently involved in a biocontrol programme against common and German wasps.

Proposed biocontrol for horehound – an exercise in conflict resolution

A farmers’ group recently approached Landcare Research to develop a biocontrol programme against horehound, Marrubium vulgare, leading to a funding application being submitted to MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund to support the introduction of moths as biocontrol agents. Following media attention to the application, Landcare Research received several messages from medicinal herbalists expressing opposition to the proposed programme, on the grounds that high-quality wild-harvested horehound from New Zealand should not be jeopardised.

It is common to have interest groups opposing biocontrol programmes, due to conflicting views of the target plant and the irreversible nature of biocontrol – once agents are established in the environment it is practically impossible to undo their establishment. Therefore, as science provider to a number of community groups applying for biocontrol introductions, Landcare Research takes consultation with potential opposition seriously, and prefers to engage early on. In my talk, I would like to open the channel for consultation. I will discuss the basic principles of biocontrol best practice as well as regulatory requirements. I will also touch on the considerations made by the EPA when making decisions about allowing introduction of new organisms, which could assist those making submissions. A following open discussion will establish the main issues of concern to medicinal herbalists to be worked through in coming months.