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Plant Biosecurity Advice 2019-P12 - Release of the final review of import conditions for Brassicaceous vegetable seeds for sowing

13 September 2019

This Biosecurity Advice notifies stakeholders of the release of the Final review of import conditions for brassicaceous vegetable seeds for sowing.

The final report recommends phytosanitary measures to manage the biosecurity risks posed by seed-borne pathogens, to achieve the appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia.

The final report takes into account comments received from stakeholders on the draft report released on 14 February 2018.

Australia relies on imported seeds to produce a wide range of crops, including vegetables. Large quantities of these seeds are imported annually.

The distribution of pathogens (that cause disease) associated with seed is expanding across the world and new biosecurity risks continue to emerge. The trade in vegetable seeds has become globalised with seed being commercially developed, multiplied and processed across various countries instead of within a single country. Therefore, the risk of seeds being exposed to new pathogens, as well as the risk that these pathogens may enter Australia via imported seeds, has increased. The increased biosecurity risk associated with imported seed prompted the department to review the import conditions for vegetable seeds for sowing.

The department initiated a review of four vegetable seed policies, which was funded under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. Brassicaceae is one of four vegetable families being reviewed. Brassicaceous vegetable crops include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard, radish, rocket, turnip, wasabi and watercress.

The department released the draft report of the review of import conditions for brassicaceous vegetable seeds for sowing on 14 February 2018, for public consultation (Biosecurity Advice 2018-02). Comments raised by stakeholders on the draft report were taken into consideration in the preparation of the final report.

The key findings from the review of brassicaceous vegetable seeds for sowing are:

  • Seeds of most brassicaceous vegetable species are not hosts of pathogens that are of biosecurity concern to Australia and therefore, do not require additional biosecurity measures. Instead, these species will continue to be subject to the department’s standard import conditions for seeds for sowing.
  • Seeds of some brassicaceous vegetable species are hosts to pathogens that are of biosecurity concern and therefore, imported seeds of these species require additional biosecurity measures to manage the risk:
Vegetable speciesBiosecurity measures
Fungicide1Heat2Testing3Heat + Testing4
Brassica rapa (e.g. turnips and bok choy)
Raphanus sativus (e.g. radish)
Eruca vesicaria (e.g. rocket)

1. fungicide treatment to manage Colletotrichum higginsianum and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. raphani
2. heat treatment to manage Colletotrichum higginsianum only
3. seed testing to detect the presence of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. raphani (using a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test) to help manage the risk
4. a combination of heat treatment and PCR testing to manage Colletotrichum higginsianum and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. raphani.

  • Seeds, of the three vegetable species mentioned above, are exempt from the additional biosecurity measures if:
    • the seeds are intended for producing sprouts or micro-greens for human consumption, and
    • the seeds are germinated in an Approved Arrangement facility to ensure the seeds are not directed for other uses.
  • If the additional biosecurity measures are undertaken in the exporting country, imported seed must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate declaring that the biosecurity measure was conducted in accordance with Australia’s requirements.

The final report, stakeholder comments and the department’s responses are available from the department’s website. Printed copies of the report are available on request.

The department invites stakeholders interested in receiving information and updates on biosecurity risk analyses to subscribe via the department’s online subscription service. By subscribing to Biosecurity Risk Analysis Plant, you will receive Biosecurity Advices and other notifications relating to plant biosecurity policy, including the vegetable seed reviews.

Dr Marion Healy
First Assistant Secretary
Biosecurity Plant Division

Telephone: 1800 900 090 (option 1, option 1)
Email: Imports