THERE'S a new state-of-the-art CSIRO laboratory in Perth, designed for the safe testing of imported biological control agents, as part of the effort to build a new generation of environmentally friendly weapons against weeds and insect pests.
Australian graingrowers apply $700 million worth of pesticides every year yet still lose $500 million in production and downgrading losses.
Underscoring the seriousness of the problem, the GRDC has invested $4.2 million in weed control research this year and a further $2 million in research on invertebrate pests.
The new facility will operate under stringent guidelines. Researchers apply first to AQIS for permission to import the agent under strict quarantine conditions. AQIS then consults 21 relevant state and federaJ bodies before giving approval.
A potential weed control agent would be tested, under secure conditions, on all members of the same plant family as the target weed together with a variety of our more than 400 plant species. Once it is proved that the agent is effective against the target weed and poses no threat to any other plants, AQIS relays the findings to the relevant state and federal organisations for their approval before releasing the agent.