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Plant biosecurity

Plant Biosecurity is a set of measures designed to protect a crop, crops or a sub-group of crops from emergency plant pests at national, regional and individual farm levels.
Source: Plant Health Australia 2005, Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed

Why is plant biosecurity important?

Biosecurity has emerged as a major global issue. Harmful plant pests and diseases can impact on food safety, trade, market access, market development and, ultimately, the profitability and sustainability of plant industries.

Australia is relatively free from many of the plant pests and diseases which seriously impact on agricultural industries in other countries. Through the absence of many pests and diseases commonly found overseas, Australia's plant industries have a valuable competitive advantage in terms of securing market access and maintaining lower production costs.

If these pests found their way into Australia, the economic viability of Australia's plant industries (which have a farm gate value of over $18 billion and contribute over $12 billion to export income) would be directly threatened. Even the perception of pests in Australian produce would have a rapid and negative impact on Australia's reputation as a producer of safe, quality food products.

The on-going supply of agricultural products to the domestic market, and the commerce associated with the entire supply chain are also at risk. For example, the cost to governments and industry of eradicating the papaya fruit fly outbreak in northern Australia in the mid-1990s has been estimated at $134 000 000.

We play a vital role in enhancing the scientific effort to enable Australia's plant industries to pre-empt and, therefore, diminish the economic, social and environmental impact of harmful plant pests and diseases. Our research activities  will cover the full biosecurity continuum, pre-border, border and post- border.

We will contribute to the Australian Biosecurity System (ABS), providing the science required to underpin the plant pest related objectives. Outcomes from our will also assist in minimising the impact of possible plant-based bioterrorism.