Big Pineapple.
Big Pineapple. Contributed

Imports may threaten pineapples

MALAYSIAN pineapple imports may threaten our iconic industry through the introduction of a major disease known as bacterial fruit collapse.

The Australian Government recently released a draft import risk assessment for fresh, de-crowned Malaysian pineapples which allows relatively unrestricted access for the fruit and which does not recommend any quarantine protocols for this serious disease.

The industry is greatly concerned that the disease, which causes losses of up to 60% of Malaysian pineapple production, was not considered a high risk to the Queensland industry.

The draft IRA does concede there is a possibility that some Malaysian pineapples will bring this disease into Australia but argues that once it is here it is unlikely to spread.

The argument seems to be based on a number of flawed assumptions both about the nature of pineapple growing itself and characteristics of the disease.

The main rationale put forward is that most of the imported pineapples will be consumed away from major production centres and that the likelihood of the disease being carried into a production area is very small because of the way the disease moves.

However the major production area for pineapples is the Sunshine Coast, very close to Brisbane.

In addition, the studies looking at the animal carriers of this disease, such as ants, have not investigated the potential Australian carriers such as the honey bee.

Some of these Australian carriers may have the potential to carry the disease much further than their Malaysian counterparts.

The draft IRA was released on October 9 with a 60-day comment period.

Growcom is working with leading pineapple scientific experts to identify key areas of concern which will be raised with Biosecurity Australia.

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