AUSTRALIA commenced animport risk analysis (IRA) for Philippine bananas in June 2000. An expert panel of specialists was established in 2001 to conduct the IRA.
The expert panel is working with Biosecurity Australia to develop science-based quarantine policy that will maintain the favourable health status of Australia’s agriculture.
In June 2002, a draft IRA report was issued for comment. Twenty submissions were received from stakeholders, and there were supplementary submissions from the Philippines Government and the Australian Banana Growers Council.
In the light of comments received on the 2002 Draft IRA report, the expert panel conducted an in depth review of the evidence surrounding risks associated with Moko and the quarantine measures available to address those risks.
On 19 February 2004, Biosecurity Australia issued a Revised Draft Import Risk Analysis Report on Bananas from the Philippines for stakeholder comment. The report was presented as a draft for comment, rather than as a final report, because itproposed that bananas could be imported into Australia under a suite of stringent quarantine measures.
In March, Biosecurity Australia identified a transcription error in a cell of an electronic spreadsheet used in the estimation of risk in the IRA. This was a minor error, but it impacted on the assessment. The spreadsheet has been checked thoroughly to ensure no further errors.
Using the corrected spreadsheet, the expert panel has presented a review of all risk management outputs and consequential effects in an addendum.
The addendum contains three replacement sections for the revised draft IRA report.
Specific changes arising from the Addendum are the application of a more stringent ‘area of low pest prevalence’ regime for moko, addition of an insecticidal treatment for mealy bugs, and the inclusion of quarantine conditions for banana bract mosaic virus.
The quarantine measures proposed for Philippines bananas include:
- plantations need to demonstrate that the prevalence of pests and diseases is kept continuously below a level acceptable to Australia (particularly in relation to Moko, freckle and banana bract mosaic virus);
- sourcing bananas only from Australian-approved plantations and from plants in them that have been inspected weekly and found free from specific disease symptoms;
- packing stations to be registered and ISO certified;
- all bananas to undergo a combination of washing and insecticide treatment in packing stations to reduce the risk of mealybugs to a very low level;
- additional rigorous measures relating to packing materials, packing and transport procedures to reduce the risk of contaminants such as leaf trash, weed seeds and frogs;
- prior to exports commencing, thorough start-up checks by AQIS and Biosecurity Australia to confirm that all quarantine requirements are in place;
- strict pre-export checking by AQIS including audits of all aspects of the quarantine conditions throughout the production chain;
- AQIS inspection on arrival in Australia; and
- AQIS may review conditions at any time and has the right to suspend the importation of bananas in the event of a breach of quarantine.
A further 30-day consultation period has been provided. Stakeholders are encouraged to submit comments on the draft risk analysis and the quarantine measures proposed by 15 September 2004.
The expert panel will give careful consideration to all comments received when they undertake the next stage of the IRA – preparing the final report. In the final report they will account for how they have dealt with all the comments received from stakeholders.
Under the IRA process, importation of Philippine bananas will only be allowed if the final IRA report shows that all quarantine risks can be managed safely.
More information is available at Biosecurity Australia
Media contact: Marisa Gerussi, 02 6272 3658.