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News

New RIRDC pest and weeds risk assessment introduced 29 Mar 2012

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation has launched a new assessment framework that will play an important role in helping prevent the introduction and spread of new pests and weeds in Australia.

The assessment framework will see RIRDC-funded researchers follow a strict series of checks and inquiries to ensure that before a research project involving a plant or animal species begins it poses minimal threat to native flora or fauna, land and aquatic environments, agricultural crops or human and animal health.

The assessment process is outlined in the new RIRDC publication, ‘An invasive risk assessment framework for new animal and plant-based production industries’ and will be used in all of RIRDC’s research projects that include prospective production plants and animals, including insects.

RIRDC’s Managing Director, Craig Burns said the new RIRDC assessment protocols further support the national fight against pests and weeds and help to underpin the Australian Pest Animal Strategy and the Australian Weeds Strategy.

“Poor biosecurity management that results in the introduction, establishment and spread of weeds, pests and diseases adds costs to and threatens market access for Australia’s rural industries”, Mr Burns said.

“Part of RIRDC’s mandate is to support research and development for new rural industries. As such, RIRDC has a particular responsibility to ensure that the research it administers does not result in Australia’s biosecurity status being compromised.

“The development of new animal- or plant-based rural industries carries the risk that the subject organisms, once within Australia, might become weeds or pests or be the agents for the introduction or spread of other pests, weeds or diseases.

“By implementing the new risk assessment protocols RIRDC will reduce the risk of adverse biosecurity outcomes arising from the research activities it supports and also increase the awareness of the importance of sound biosecurity management within RIRDC and the research community it supports.”

RIRDC had an existing pest and weed assessment as part of its research implementation process, however the new assessment process utilises the very latest science and information and also includes additional levels of scrutiny.

The study that led to the development of the new assessment process undertook a world-wide survey to verify the relevance of existing protocols and the assessments made using them. In the case of potential weeds, the study identified appropriate sources of information upon which risk assessments can be made and in the case of potential pest animals, assembled and collated relevant information into an accessible database.

An electronic version of the publication ‘An invasive risk assessment framework for new animal and plant-based production industries’ can be downloaded for free from www.rirdc.gov.au.

Media enquiries:
Damon Whittock – RIRDC Public Affairs Manager – 02 6271 4175 or 0458 215 604.