Group pest risk analysis for mealybugs

​​Draft group pest risk analysis for mealybugs and the viruses they transmit on fresh fruit, vegetable, cut-flower and foliage imports

We are conducting a group pest risk analysis for mealybugs and the viruses they transmit on fresh fruit, vegetables, cut-flowers and foliage imports.

We will conduct the group pest risk analysis in three key steps:

  1. Review scientific information relevant to mealybugs and the viruses they transmit on fresh fruit, vegetable, cut-flower and foliage imports.
  2. Release the draft report on 28 September 2018, via Biosecurity Advice 2018-24 for a 60-day public consultation period, closing on 27 November 2018.
  3. Release the final report in 2019, following consideration of stakeholder comments.

A summary of the group pest risk analysis and process is available in the fact sheet.

This group pest risk analysis is funded through the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to strengthen biosecurity surveillance and analysis.

Make a submission

Stakeholders were invited to submit written comments on the draft report.

The consultation period closed on 27 November 2018.

Comments received will be considered in preparing the final risk analysis.

Draft group pest risk analysis 

The draft group pest risk analysis assesses:

  • the biosecurity risk posed by mealybugs
  • the biosecurity risk posed by viruses transmitted by mealybugs, and
  • the plant import pathways on which mealybugs and the viruses they transmit can enter Australia

The plant import pathways include fresh fruit, vegetables, cut-flowers and foliage imports.

The draft group pest risk analysis identifies measures to manage the biosecurity risks. These measures achieve the appropriate level of protection for Australia.

Download the draft report

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Purpose of the group pest risk analysis

We are improving the effectiveness and consistency of the pest risk analysis process. A key to this is developing a group approach to pest risk analyses. A group pest risk analysis takes into account the biosecurity risk posed by a group of pests. Group pest risk analyses assess groups of pests that share common biological characteristics.

Mealybugs is the second group pest risk analysis we have developed. The first group pest risk analysis was for thrips and orthotospoviruses.

Scope

We are assessing all members of three mealybug families. These families are Pseudococcidae, Putoidae and Rhizoecidae, in the insect order Hemiptera. We are also assessing the viruses transmitted by mealybugs.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, cut-flowers and foliage are pathways on which mealybugs and the viruses they transmit can enter Australia. The group pest risk analysis is assessing these pests on these pathways.

Summary of draft report

We are improving the effectiveness and consistency of the pest risk analysis process. A key to this is developing a group approach to pest risk analyses. A group pest risk analysis takes into account the biosecurity risk posed by a group of pests. Group pest risk analyses assess groups of pests that share common biological characteristics.

Mealybugs is the second group pest risk analysis we have developed. The first group pest risk analysis was for thrips and orthotospoviruses.

Mealybugs can cause damage across a range of crops. For example, they can reduce crop yield, quality and marketability. The viruses transmitted by mealybugs can also cause damage to crops.

There are 169 mealybug species confirmed as being quarantine pests for Australia. Also, there are 9 viruses confirmed as being quarantine pests for Australia.

We have identified measures to manage the risk posed by the mealybug quarantine pests. These measures are consistent with long-standing established import requirements for mealybug quarantine pests. We have also identified alternative risk management options that achieve an appropriate level of protection for Australia.

General Information

Register as a stakeholder

The Biosecurity Plant Division uses the stakeholder register for distributing biosecurity risk analysis information to registered stakeholders. Stakeholders interested in receiving information and updates on biosecurity risk analyses are invited to subscribe via the department’s new online subscription service. By subscribing to Biosecurity Risk Analysis Plant, you will receive Biosecurity Advices and other notifications relating to plant biosecurity policy.

Protecting Australia from exotic pests

We undertake risk assessments of pests and diseases and identify risk management options to address any risks of exotic pests and diseases. These measures reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.

Zero risk is impossible. Aiming for zero risk would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed.

Australia exports almost two-thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agricultural and food industries, including their capacity to contribute to growth and jobs, depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain its animal and plant health status.

Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve an appropriate level of protection for Australia.

International obligations

All World Trade Organization (WTO) members are signatories to the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement), under which they have both rights and obligations.

The basic obligations of the SPS Agreement are that SPS measures must:

  • be based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances or drawn from standards developed by the World Organisation for Animal Health and the International Plant Protection Convention
  • only be applied to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health
  • be based on science
  • not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between WTO members, or be a disguised restriction on trade.

Under the SPS Agreement, each WTO Member is entitled to maintain a level of protection it considers appropriate to protect human, animal or plant life or health within its territory – in other words, its appropriate level of protection.

Appropriate level of protection

The appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia is defined in the Biosecurity Act 2015 as ‘a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to very low, but not to zero’. This definition was agreed with all our state and territory governments and recognises that a zero-risk stance is impractical.

The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.

Read more about Australia’s ALOP

Biosecurity risk

The term ‘biosecurity risk’ is used to describe the combination of the likelihood and the consequences of a pest or disease of biosecurity concern entering, establishing and spreading in Australia.

Australia's biosecurity system protects our unique environment and agricultural sector and supports our reputation as a safe and reliable trading nation. This has significant economic, environmental and community benefits for all Australians.

New scientific information

Scientific information can be provided to us at any time, even after a risk analysis has been completed. We will consider the information provided and review the analysis.

Meeting Australia’s food standards

Imported food for human consumption must satisfy Australia’s food standards. Australian law requires that all food, including imported fresh fruit, meets the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992. Each state and territory also has its own food laws that must be met.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for developing and maintaining the Food Standards Code. The standards apply to all food in Australia, irrespective of whether it is grown domestically or imported.

Timing of imports

The recommendations in the final report are an administrative step and reflect the completion of the risk analysis. Before imports can commence we will:

  • verify that a country can action the recommended risk management measures
  • publish import conditions on the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON), and
  • issue import permits for trade to commence.

The decision to import agricultural produce to Australia is a commercial decision between an importer in Australia and a supplier in the exporting country who can meet the import conditions.

Contact information

For more information, stakeholders can email imports or phone 1800 900 090 (option 1, option 1).