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Source: Reuters
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  • Biosecurity officials at the Sydney Gateway Facility intercept two live rooted rose plants that could be affected by Xylella
  • Roses host ‘sudden oak death’ and Xylella fastidiosa, both of which could be devastating to Australia’s native species and forestry
  • If the disease was to arrive and establish in Australia, it could cost the nation’s wine grape and wine making industry up to $7.9 billion over 50 years

Biosecurity officials at the Sydney Gateway Facility have intercepted two live rooted rose plants that could be affected by Xylella.

These particular rose plants are known to host one of Australia’s largest plant disease threats Xylella.

Roses host ‘sudden oak death’ and Xylella fastidiosa, both of which could be devastating to Australia’s horticulture and ornamental industry, as well as native species and forestry.

Biosecurity officers found the roses covered in fungi and bacteria.

According to data provided by the Government, if the disease was to arrive and establish in Australia, it could cost the nation’s wine grape and wine making industry up to $7.9 billion over 50 years.

Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment Andrew Tongue said importing plants carried a huge risk of plant diseases.

“This is also not the first time we have intercepted Xylella host plants through the mail, with live asparagales shrub plants and fig cuttings intercepted at Sydney Gateway Facility earlier this year,” he said.

“There is no cure for Xylella. It is Australia’s number one priority plant disease risk and is a threat to many industries, including cherries, citrus, tree nuts, production nurseries, summer fruit, olives and viticulture.”

Xylella has destroyed olive grows in Italy that are centuries old, and the disease is known to impact hundreds of plant species.

“The economic costs of Xylella to Europe have been estimated in the billions of Euros. In Australia, the potential economic impact to the wine industry alone has been estimated at $2.8 and $7.9 billion over 50 years,” Mr Tongue said.

Roses also carry ‘sudden oak death’, which is killing million of trees across Europe and North America. It affects 130 tree and shrub species, including roses, and poses a risk to fruit and nut trees.

“We all have a responsibility to keep Australia pest and disease-free,” Mr Tongue concluded.

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