Review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous crop seeds for sowing into Australia

​​​​We are conducting a review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous crop seeds for sowing into Australia. This review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous crop seeds (such as cucumber, melon, pumpkin and zucchini) is the second in a series of vegetable seed policy reviews. The series of policy reviews will also include Apiaceae (carrot, celery, parsnip, etc.), Brassicaceae (cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) and Solanaceae (capsicum, eggplant, tomato, etc.).

Most vegetable seeds are imported from all sources under our standard import conditions for seeds for sowing. Recent incursions of some seed-borne pathogens and changes to the risk profile of cucurbitaceous crop seeds prompted us to review the existing import conditions to ensure they adequately address biosecurity risks.

We will conduct the review in three key steps:

  • Conduct a preliminary review of scientific knowledge of seed-borne pathogens of concern, including conducting a risk analysis and developing proposed risk management measures.
  • Release the draft review on 6 December 2017 for an extended 75 calendar day public consultation period, to allow for the Christmas/New Year holiday period. Stakeholder submissions are invited by 19 February 2018.
  • Consider stakeholder submissions in finalising the review in 2018.
This review is funded by the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

Make a submission

We invite you to submit written comments on the draft report during the extended 75 calendar day consultation period (from the standard 60 days) to take into account the Christmas/New Year holiday period. Your feedback will be considered when we finalise the review.

Submissions close on 19 February 2018.

You can read the draft review and make a submission.

Have Your Say  

Draft review

This draft review evaluates the effectiveness of existing risk management measures for identified biosecurity risks, and proposes additional mandatory phytosanitary measures to reduce the risk of introduction of the identified quarantine pests to achieve the appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia.

Download the review

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Draft review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous crop seeds for sowing into Australia PDF2093.66 MB
Draft review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous crop seeds for sowing into Australia DOCX2093.90 MB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.​

Purpose of the review

Australia relies on the overseas supply of seeds for cucurbitaceous vegetable crop production. Seeds are imported from all sources in accordance with our standard requirements for the importation of seeds for sowing.

We are undertaking a review of these existing import conditions of vegetable seeds, including those for cucurbitaceous crops. The review is in response to:

  • an increase in seed-borne pathogens being reported outside their known geographic distribution, in part linked to the increasing globalisation of the vegetable seed trade
  • changes in seed production practices that have increased the likelihood of the seeds’ exposure to pathogens and the introduction of pathogens to new areas

The review will be conducted as a review of import conditions (non-regulated risk analysis) to assess the biosecurity risks associated with seeds being imported into Australia.


Acknowledging the change in risk profile, the department is undertaking a review of the existing import conditions for vegetable seeds including those for cucurbitaceous crops.

This review aims to:

  • identify pathogens associated with seeds of cucurbitaceous crops
  • evaluate the appropriateness of the existing risk management measures
  • propose additional risk management measures where appropriate.

The department has conducted a separate pest risk analysis for Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) to address Australia’s emergency measures against this virus. The conditions recommended in the department’s final pest risk analysis for CGMMV are adopted in this review.

Summary of review and proposed measures

This review identified five seed-borne pathogens associated with cucurbitaceous crop seeds that meet the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) criteria for a quarantine pest.

The identified quarantine pests include, in addition to CGMMV, are Kyuri green mottle mosaic virus (KGMMV), Melon necrotic spot virus (MNSV), Phomopsis cucurbitae and Zucchini green mottle mosaic virus (ZGMMV).

The unrestricted risk of these quarantine pests does not achieve the appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia; therefore, additional risk management measures are required.

We propose mandatory phytosanitary measures in addition to Australia’s standard requirements for the importation of seeds for sowing.

The proposed additional mandatory measures require:

  • Mandatory testing or treatment (off-shore or on-shore) for seeds of Citrullus lanatus, Cucumis melo, Cucumis sativus, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita pepo, Lagenaria siceraria and Trichosanthes cucumerina and any hybrid of these species as specified in this review.
  • Seed lots tested or treated off-shore to be accompanied by an official government Phytosanitary Certificate endorsed with the additional declaration that the consignment has undergone mandatory treatment or testing in accordance with Australian import conditions.

Not all the cucurbitaceous crop species reviewed were found to be affected by these pests of quarantine concern to Australia.

We propose that the seed of the following species do not require mandatory testing or treatment, and can continue to be imported under Australia’s standard requirements for the importation of seeds for sowing import requirements: Benincasa hispida, Citrullus amarus, Cucumis anguria, Cucumis colocynthis, Cucumis dipsaceus, Cucumis ficifolius, Cucumis leptodermis, Cucumis metuliferus, Cucumis myriocarpus, Cucumis zeyheri, Cucurbita argyrosperma, Cucurbita ficifolia, Cucurbita foetidissima, Luffa acutangula, Luffa aegyptiaca, Luffa graveolens, Luffa operculata, Momordica balsamina, Momordica cardiospermoides, Momordica charantia, Momordica cochinchinensis, Momordica foetida, Momordica friesiorum, Momordica grosvenorii, Momordica rostrata and Sechium edule.

As a result of the draft review we will introduce emergency measures on 31 January 2018, as an interim pending the final report recommendations being implemented. The emergency measures will require mandatory testing of cucurbit seeds associated with ZGMMV and KGMMV and mandatory fungicidal seed treatment for Phomopsis cucurbitae. Cucurbit seeds requiring mandatory testing are identified in the Biosecurity Fact Sheet: Cucurbitaceous crop seeds for sowing into Australia.

General information

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.

Protecting Australia from exotic pests

We undertake comprehensive 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 to the lowest possible level.

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 a good 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.

Contact information

For more information, stakeholders can email Plant stakeholders ​or phone +61 2 6272 5094.