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Biosecurity keeps Australian wine flowing

The value of biosecurity for Australia’s wine industry has been highlighted, with the release of a new Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) report that assesses the devastating impact a Xylella fastidiosa incursion could have on the wine grape and wine-making industries.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Luke Hartsuyker, said it was important for all Australians to understand the value and importance of biosecurity for the nation and the impact a significant incursion could have.

“Australia’s biosecurity system safeguards our industries, environment, plant, animal and human health from significant pests and diseases present in other countries,” Minister Hartsuyker said.

“If certain pests or diseases were to arrive in Australia, it could significantly impact on the productivity and sustainability of some of our most important industries, along with inhibiting access to overseas markets.”

Xylella fastidiosa is one of the world’s most devastating plant pests and there is no cure. In California, it has caused over $100 million in yearly losses to the grape industry and on the Italian peninsula of Salento around one million olive trees are estimated to be infected.

It could arrive in Australia on imported plant propagative material or insect vectors.

Australia introduced emergency biosecurity measures in late 2015 to reduce the risk of a Xylella Fastidiosa incursion. These measures are in addition to strong biosecurity controls already in place, including offshore testing of nursery stock and plant material coming from countries or regions where Xylella fastidiosa occurs and certification that material is free from Xylella fastidiosa before it arrives on our shores.

“We are the fifth largest wine producing country in the world, producing 1.3 billion litres in 2016. Around 170,000 people are employed in wine-related industries and the industry contributes $40 billion to the Australian economy each year,” Minister Hartsuyker said.

“If the deadly plant bacterium Xylella fastidiosa entered and established in Australia, it would pose a significant threat to the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness of Australia’s wine grape and wine-making industries.

“According to ABARES, it could cost our wine grape and wine-making industries up to $7.9 billion over 50 years.

“Their assessment also found that if the outbreak was contained within one region, the impact on the wine industry would be a fraction of the impact of uncontrolled spread, highlighting that early detection of the bacterium would be vital.

“It found that if a hypothetical outbreak was detected in the Lower Murray region, for example, and could be successfully contained within that region, we could avoid losses of around $2.6 billion nationally, over 50 years.

“Australia has a strong biosecurity system that manages the risk of plant pests and diseases arriving here. This includes measures offshore, onshore and at the border, as well as strict import conditions for plant material.

“Assessing the potential impact of biosecurity pests and diseases is important for our future preparedness and in highlighting the significance and value of our biosecurity system for our nation.”

Source: Australian Government

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