Pepino mosaic virus and pospiviroids in tomato seed

​​​​Pest risk analysis for Pepino mosaic virus and pospiviroids associated with tomato seed

We have commenced a pest risk analysis for Pepino mosaic virus and pospiviroids associated with tomato seed.

We will conduct the pest risk analysis in three key steps:

  1. Announce the pest risk analysis on 22 March 2018 via Biosecurity Advice 2018-04.
  2. Release the draft pest risk analysis for a 60 day consultation period in April 2018.
  3. Release the final pest risk analysis in late 2018, following consideration of stakeholder comments.

A summary of the review background and process is available in the fact​​​sheet.

Purpose of the pest risk analysis

Pepino mosaic virus (PepMV) and pospiviroids are transmitted through tomato seeds to tomato seedlings and are spreading across many countries. In other countries these seed-borne pathogens damage the avocado, capsicum, chilli, potato and tomato industries.

To manage the risks presented by PepMV and several pospiviroids, the importation of tomato seed (Solanum lycopersicum) is currently subject to emergency measures, as is the seed of wild tomato (Solanum chilense, S. chmielewskii, S. parviflorum, S. peruvianum and S. pimpinellifolium).

In 2008, the department introduced emergency measures on tomato seed imports in response to incursions of Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) in Australia. Between 2001 and 2012, there were several incursions of PSTVd in tomato and capsicum crops in Australia, as well as an incursion of Pepper chat fruit viroid (PCFVd) in a tomato crop.

Consequently, the emergency measures were amended in 2012 to implement mandatory testing for PepMV and six other plant pathogens, all pospiviroids: Columnea latent viroid (CLVd), PCFVd, PSTVd, Tomato apical stunt viroid (TASVd), Tomato chlorotic dwarf viroid (TCDVd) and Tomato planta macho viroid (TPMVd).

We initiated this pest risk analysis to assess the risks, evaluate the emergency measures, consider ongoing phytosanitary measures and ensure any ongoing measures are technically justified. The department is conducting this risk analysis as a review of biosecurity import requirements (a non-regulated risk analysis).

General information

Register as a stakeholder

The Biosecurity Plant Division uses the stakeholder register for distributing biosecurity risk analysis policy information to registered stakeholders. Stakeholders interested in receiving information and updates on biosecurity risk analyses are invited 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.

Protecting Australia from exotic pests

We undertake 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.

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 its 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.

New scientific information

Scientific information can be provided to us at any time, even after a risk analysis has been completed. We will consider the information provided and review the analysis.

Contact information

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