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Emergency measures for tomato and capsicum seed commencing 5 March 2019

Effective 28 February 2019 to 28 April 2019

Update to staff and importers for emergency measures to manage Tomato brown rugose fruit virus in imported tomato and capsicum seed.

This update provides details of the emergency measures referred to in the alert issued on 25 February 2019.

Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) has been identified as an emerging biosecurity risk to tomato and capsicum seed imports.

Due to the significant economic impact the virus has on host crops, emergency measures to manage the risk of entry of the virus have been developed by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Summary of the emergency measures

The emergency measures will be implemented in phases in order to minimise disruption to trade as outlined below:

Scope: These emergency measures apply to all permitted species of tomato and capsicum seed listed in the following BICON Cases:

Phase 0: Transition phase

Seed consignments that are shipped to Australia prior to, or on 4 March 2019 will be allowed entry into Australia under the existing arrangement (no mandatory test required for ToBRFV, existing testing requirements for other pathogens remain).

Commercial documentation will be required to confirm the shipping date to Australia.

Phase 0 expires at midnight 4 March 2019 and will be replaced by Phase 1 conditions on 5 March 2019.

Phase 1: Mandatory testing for ToBRFV using 3,000 seed sample size (5 March to 31 March 2019)

From 5 March 2019, consignments that land in Australia will be subject to mandatory testing for ToBRFV. This testing may be done offshore at any laboratory able to perform the required test or onshore at a department approved laboratory.

Large seed lots must be tested with a sample size of a minimum 3,000 seed or 20% of the seed lot by weight for small seed lots using the ISTA 7-028 protocol and found free of ToBRFV.

Phytosanitary certification will be required to attest to the testing requirements, and/or corresponding laboratory reports (that link to the phytosanitary documentation and seed lot) confirming seed was found free of ToBRFV.

Where phytosanitary certification is not presented or not accepted, consignments are subject to onshore testing in Australia at a sample size of 3,000 seeds for large seed lots or 20% of the seed lot by weight for small seed lots.

The laboratory report must state:

  1. the seed species tested

  2. that a minimum seed sample was tested.

  3. the test result confirming freedom from ToBRFV.

  4. the lot/batch number(s), and these numbers must match the Phytosanitary certificate

  5. the date, the laboratory name and address.

Phase 1 expires at midnight 31 March 2019 and will be replaced by Phase 2 conditions on 1 April 2019.

Note: The department may consider moving from Phase 1 directly to Phase 3, if validated and approved PCR diagnostic testing becomes available.

Phase 2: Mandatory ELISA testing for ToBRFV using a seed sample of 20,000 seed

Consignments that are shipped after midnight 31 March 2019 will be subject to mandatory testing by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for ToBRFV. This testing may be done offshore at any laboratory able to perform the required test or onshore at a department approved laboratory.

Seeds must be tested by an approved enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and found free of ToBRFV with a sample size of 20,000 seeds for large seed lots (or 20 per cent for small seed lots) using either of the following commercially available kits:

Phytosanitary certification will be required to attest to the testing requirements, and/or corresponding laboratory reports (that link to the phytosanitary documents and seed lot) confirming seed was found free of ToBRFV. Laboratory reports must confirm an approved ELISA test kit was used.

Where phytosanitary certification is not presented or not accepted, consignments are subject to onshore testing in Australia at a sample size of 20,000 seeds for large seed lots or 20% of the seed lot by weight for small seed lots.

Phase 2 will continue until the department notifies of a commencement date for Phase 3, through an additional BICON notification. The department will also consider any required transitional arrangements as part of Phase 3.

Phase 3: A PCR testing for ToBRFV using 20,000 seed sample

The department is working on the development of a PCR test that will replace the ELISA test.

The PCR test may be conducted off-shore or on-shore, using a 20,000 seed sample.

Import permits

Further Information

Please contact Plant Import Operations on 1800 900 090 or email imports@agriculture.gov.au (please title the subject line of the email with ‘Tomato and Capsicum seed emergency measures, Plant T2”.)

This Alert applies to the following Cases:


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