Pest risk analysis for Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV)

​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) has completed a pest risk analysis for Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) associated with host cucurbit seeds.

There were three principal steps in the process:

Final report summary

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources initiated this pest risk analysis (PRA) in response to the introduction of emergency measures against Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV). This virus was detected in September 2014 in the Northern Territory, Australia and declared a quarantine pathogen. Delimiting surveys were initiated for all cucurbit growing areas in the Northern Territory. Australia introduced emergency measures in October 2014 to mitigate the risk of any further introductions of CGMMV into Australia. Although there have been several subsequent incidents of CGMMV in Australia, substantial resources are being invested in its eradication, containment and management, as appropriate. Therefore, CGMMV is considered under official control, and continues to be a quarantine pest for Australia.

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the ‘World Trade Organisation Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures’ (SPS Agreement) require that phytosanitary measures against the introduction of new pests be technically justified. The IPPC’s International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) No. 1 acknowledges that countries may take appropriate emergency action on a pest posing a potential threat to its territories, however, it also requires that the action be evaluated as soon as possible to justify its continuance. This PRA meets Australia’s international obligations to review the emergency phytosanitary measures on cucurbit seeds associated with CGMMV (Citrullus lanatus, Cucumis melo, Cucumis sativus, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata,Cucurbita pepo, Lagenaria siceraria, Trichosanthes cucumerina and any hybrid of these species).

The scope of this PRA was limited to reviewing the emergency measures for imports of cucurbit seeds associated with CGMMV and recommending appropriate import conditions. The continued suspension of importation of host nursery stock and tissue cultures was outside the scope of this PRA.

The department considers that the emergency measures are adequate to mitigate the risk posed by CGMMV associated with host seeds. The recommended minor changes to the emergency measures provided here include an option of testing small seed lots off-shore, and acceptance of a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing method approved by the department.

The recommended import conditions for cucurbit seeds associated with CGMMV (Citrullus lanatus, Cucumis melo, Cucumis sativus, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita pepo, Lagenaria siceraria, Trichosanthes cucumerina and any hybrid of these species) are summarised below.

  • Testing—mandatory off-shore or on-shore testing by International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) validated Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) or a PCR method approved by the department on a sample size of 9,400 seeds (or 20 per cent for small seed lots) to verify freedom from CGMMV; AND
  • Certification— seed lots tested off-shore must be accompanied by an official government Phytosanitary Certificate endorsed with the following additional declaration:

‘The consignment of [botanical name (Genus species)] was tested by ELISA [insert laboratory name and report number] on a sample size of 9,400 seeds (or 20 per cent of small seed lots) and found free from CGMMV’; OR

‘The consignment of [botanical name (Genus species)] was tested by PCR [insert laboratory name and report number] on a sample size of 9,400 seeds (or 20 per cent of small seed lots) and found free from CGMMV’; AND

  • On-arrival inspection—seed lots must be inspected on arrival to verify freedom from live insects, soil, disease symptoms, prohibited seeds, other plant material (for example, leaf, stem material, fruit pulp and pod material), animal material (for example, animal faeces and feathers) and any other extraneous contamination of quarantine concern.

The department considers that the recommended risk management measures will be adequate to mitigate the risks posed by CGMMV associated with host cucurbit seeds.

The department has considered stakeholders comments and made several changes to the ‘Draft pest risk analysis for Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV)’. However, these changes have no impact on the recommended risk management measures.

Next steps

The publication of the final pest risk analysis for CGMMV, reflects the completion of the risk analysis process however new scientific information will be considered at any time.

Import conditions will be published on the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON). Interested stakeholders can register in the BICON system and receive an alert when the case is updated.

The final import conditions for CGMMV-host cucurbit seeds for sowing will also contribute to the current review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous crop seeds.

Stakeholder Consultation

The department consulted with industry representatives and relevant state and territory agriculture authorities throughout the review process.

Responses to stakeholder submissions on the draft pest risk analysis are provided in Appendix A (page 43) of the final report on the pest risk analysis.

If you wish to know more about this review or the risk analysis review process please email Plant Stakeholders or phone +61 2 6272 5094.

Register as a stakeholder

Biosecurity Plant Division use a stakeholder register to distribute biosecurity policy information to stakeholders. By subscribing to the Stakeholder Register, you will receive Biosecurity Advices on commodities of particular interest to you. To register visit stakeholder registration.

What is a pest risk analysis?

A pest risk analysis is the process of evaluating evidence to determine: whether an organism is a pest, if the pest should be regulated, and the strength of any phytosanitary measures to be taken against it to manage biosecurity risk.

If the risks posed by the pest does not achieve Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP), the analysis will specify that the import will not proceed, unless appropriate measures have been identified that will reduce those risks to achieve the ALOP.

This pest risk analysis considers the risk of a pest associated with an import pathway, along with any sanitary and phytosanitary measures that could address this risk.

Considerations during a pest risk analysis

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 Organization 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 has been reached with the agreement of all state and territory governments and recognises that a zero risk stance is impractical because this would mean Australia would have no tourists, no international travel and no imports.

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

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

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.

Protecting Australia from exotic pests

A comprehensive risk analysis is undertaken and risk management measures are recommended to address any risks of exotic pests and diseases.  Recommended measures reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.

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