Horsham’s King and McQueen of border security
18 June 2015
Who says border security ends at the airport.
Certainly not Shane King and Virginia McQueen who work at Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, (DEDJTR) Horsham.
The pair are the local quarantine specialists in DEDJTR's Biosciences Research Branch, involved in research to ensure introduced pulse seed lines are free of any exotic disease.
This involves screening any arrivals of pulse seed - including chickpeas, lentils, faba beans, field peas and vetch – into Australia for exotic diseases and viruses.
"Horsham is the national leader in lentil and pea research and as a result sometimes get new material from other countries to bring into the country via our quarantine facility" Mr King said.
"To ensure that new seeds don't bring any diseases with them we carefully screen and test nearly all of pulse arrivals to Australia before releasing them to the wider community."
"They go through the full growth cycle under quarantine which involves growing and harvesting the seed, lab testing the germinated plants for exotic viruses and screening them for fungal and bacterial pathogens, prior to harvesting the seed."
Mr King, who has been working in this field for 21 years, said disease could be costly to both production and markets if it got out into commercial crops.
"We are sometimes seen as strict on quarantine by other countries but the fact is we have many export markets because of our lower disease risks here in Australia.
"There are only a handful of crops grown in Australia which originate from indigenous plants so we are almost totally reliant on overseas sources of seed. This makes this screening of the imported seed even more important."
The quarantine service is used for new additions to the joint Victorian Government and GRDC facility, the Australian Grains Genebank, which is based at Horsham and stores more than 150,000 different seed lines from around the world.
"Most, if not all, of the temperate pulses held in the genebank have undergone quarantine in our facility," Mr King said.
"Seeds are wonderful assets and could hold the key to future productivity and food security but it is critical that they are healthy and clean when they go into any breeding program," Mr King said.
Categorised under: Biosecurity