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"AU: Final pineapple asessment is "slap in the face for industry"

Peak industry representative body for pineapples, Growcom, said that the final pineapple Impact Risk Assessment (IRA) for Malaysian imports released last week was a slap in the face for the Australian industry and had put pineapple growers’ futures on the line.

Chief Executive Officer Alex Livingstone said that the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (formerly Biosecurity Australia) had dismissed the Australian pineapple industry’s legitimate concerns about two serious disease threats in releasing the final Pineapple IRA for fresh de-crowned pineapple imports from all parts of Malaysia.

Mr Livingstone said Growcom and the state Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry had provided detailed scientific submissions on the potential risks posed by bacterial fruit collapse and heart rot.

However, the final IRA, while acknowledging the submissions, had changed little from the draft version.

"The IRA allows relatively unrestricted access for Malaysian pineapples and has not recommended any special quarantine protocols for these two diseases, dismissing them as minor risks," said Mr Livingstone.

"The only pests identified to require quarantine measures to manage risks to a very low level in order to achieve Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP) are four species of mealybugs.

"It appears that avenues for appeal for the Australian pineapple industry have been exhausted since any further action against the Pineapple IRA must be based on concerns about process rather than science."

Chris Fullerton, Chairman of the Pineapple Growers Advancement Group (PGAG), is a fourth generation pineapple grower whose family has farmed in the Sunshine Coast area for 100 years. Mr Fullerton said the two diseases posed a significant and unacceptable risk to an iconic Queensland industry.

"These pathogens were identified by industry and our biosecurity partners (QDAFF, Plant Health Australia, consulting agronomists and independent scientists) in the biosecurity deed with Plant Health Australia (PHA) in 2008 as our greatest biosecurity threats," Mr Fullerton said.

"The Australian government is apparently prepared to jeopardize Australia’s 'clean and green' status and allow this risk to pineapple growers.

"This treatment of our industry is a severe blow to the morale of stakeholders and could curtail future investment and expansion, despite promising developments in new varieties.

"Is it appropriate that the level of risk is judged to be acceptable by people who will never have to face the consequences should the worst occur?

"We see no public good in imposing this major biosecurity risk to domestic production."

For more information:
Chris Fullerton
Pineapple Growers Advancement Group
Tel: +61 0427 201 410


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