I've been watching ABC landline TV today and they ran a story about ginger imported from Fiji. The Australian farmers are not happy about it and apparently the worry is not just the competition but the find of some diseases in the imported project such as a round worm that burrows inside the ginger.
Here's an article about it:
Criticism continues over roundworm and nematode risks from Fijian ginger imports
The Federal Government continues to face criticism over its handling of ginger imports from Fiji.
Yesterday, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said roundworms recently found in imports weren't killed by the required fumigation because they were too deep in the ginger, and not of quarantine concern anyway.
But he said the more destructive burrowing nematode could be targeted because it was found closer to the skin.
However, ginger growers and an independent roundworm scientist disagree.
They say the burrowing nematode digs deep too, contrary to what Mr Joyce has said.
This would suggest the methyl bromide spray might not kill it either.
The deputy secretary of biosecurity Rona Mellor won't say whether or not Mr Joyce got it wrong, instead stating she is confident the fumigation will treat the burrowing nematode if it digs into the rhizome.
"The rate and the time (of methyl bromide treatment) that's been chosen is designed specifically for that (burrowing nematode) pest," she said.
"We haven't even considered root knot nematode because it's not a pest of concern."
Ms Mellor denies the root knot roundworm's survival suggests the burrowing nematode could also withstand the fumigation.
In addition, she says another requirement is to remove the roots of the ginger imports because the burrowing nematode mostly lives in the root system.
But independent nematologist Dr Graham Stirling, from Biological Crop Protection in Brisbane, challenges the measures.
He says both nematodes in question are closely related and therefore are likely to have a similar reaction to the fumigation.
In fact, he says, burrowing nematodes could be harder to kill.
"Because with root knot nematodes, there's often cracks and crevices... where the (fumigation) could actually penetrate. That's less likely to happen with a lower infestation of burrowing nematode."
Dr Stirling adds that removing the roots from ginger imports isn't enough.
"These people obviously don't know anything about the nematode they're dealing with... thousands and thousands of nematodes can occur in the rhizome."
Ms Mellor says Dr Stirling's comments are yet another opinion in the matter.
"I'm sure he's got a view. Many scientists do and that's one of the issues we're dealing with here, that there are always different views in science."
Dr Stirling says much more research needs to be done to first establish whether the burrowing nematode in Fiji is different to a strain that already exists in parts of Australia.
Mr Joyce says his department will do independent testing of more ginger imports, while a review into the way Australia manages its import risk continues.
Earlier this year, a Senate Committee report criticised the effectiveness of methyl bromide in killing the burrowing nematode.