February (No. 493)
New CRC to fight plant pest and disease
An application for a Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (CRC NPB) has been approved by the Department of Education, Science and Training, with funding totalling $20,500,000 over seven years.
Plant Health Australia, (PHA), the organisation responsible for proposing the CRC NPB, presented the application in recognition of the need to enhance scientific efforts to enable Australia's plant industries to pre-empt, and therefore diminish the economic and environmental impact of emergency plant pests.
The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia is a member of the PHA, in the absence of a national body for grapegrowers. The news was bittersweet for the wine industry, which heard at the same time that its own bid for a CRC Wine was unsuccessful.
"This is a major success for PHA and all those organisations that supported PHA in this proposal," said Plant Health Australia chairman, Andrew Inglis AM.
"The CRC for National Plant Biosecurity will address the biosecurity needs of the plant industries on a national basis, further enhancing our efforts to safeguard Australia's plant industries and to improve market access.
"The goal of the CRC NPB is to counteract the impact of invasive plant pests and diseases through the application of new technology and by integrating approaches across agencies and jurisdictions. The CRC will build scientific capabilities to develop and deliver novel technologies to end users including producers, agribusiness, and governments. "
Outcomes from the CRC will include new technologies to identify emergency plant pest incursions, to improve surveillance systems, and to reduce losses from incursions. Another benefit will be an increase in the number of skilled scientists involved in the plant industry supply chain.
Meanwhile, the wine industry has reacted with dismay to the news its CRC Wine bid was unsuccessful.
“This bid was the cornerstone of our forward R&D strategy which is so vital in underpinning our international competitiveness,” said Stephen Strachan, CEO of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.
“The Government has missed an outstanding opportunity to help an industry with a proven track record move forward,” he said.