Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cloak-and-dagger, meet budwood-and-underpants

The story, from a reader in New Zealand, is too good not to repeat:

Also, I'm sure [ Pacific] Rose was the one involved in the 'underpants' saga. A visiting Chinese delegation were stopped at by customs as the airport as they left NZ. The ones without diplomatic protection were searched and quite literally had their undergarments stuffed with Pacific Rose budwood. Unfortunately the ones with diplomatic protection had equally bulging pants.

But is it true? You almost want to say, Who cares? (and also, Who could make that stuff up?)

The theft apparently took place in the spring of 1997, a date that is a few years too early for the online archive of the New Zealand Herald. The only reference I could find to this incident online is from this report from a New Zealand - based trade-watchdog group:

In April, Opposition MPs and pip-fruit industry representatives lambasted the Government over its decision not to prosecute a visiting Chinese horticultural delegation after a foiled attempt to steal 15 apple budwood cuttings. Was this "theft" a genuine mistake, some asked - or a case of industrial espionage which could have seriously threatened New Zealand's $1.6 billion horticulture export industry?

A more-recent dispute over stolen Pacific Rose budwood in Chile is described here.

Thanks to Kiwi-d, writing from New Zealand, for telling us about these stories.


  1. Woo-hoo, I'm front page news :-)

    1997...clearly I thought it was a bit earlier than that, but those years just roll on.

    I guess these Chinese and Chilean incidents show the dark side of the apple trade. Now, don't get me started on our nearly a century long war with Australia over apples and fire-blight. I'm guessing its the one and only time we have taken our best-friend to the WTO court.

  2. The readers' comments are the best thing on this blog.

    I have a small but growing portfolio of blog posts that originated with readers.

    Thank you.


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