The CSIRO, Australia’s peak science body, has launched a study, Australia’s Biosecurity Future, about potential biosecurity threats.
The research is all about preparing for future biological challenges which could devastate Australia’s agricultural industries, economy and environment and could severely alter our way of life.
Experts warn that the 12 biosecurity megashocks identified in the report could turn into reality if we become complacent about biosecurity.
The CSIRO report says the number of factors placing pressure on Australia’s biosecurity system continues to grow.
Trends relating to agricultural expansion and intensification, urbanisation and changing consumer expectations, global trade and travel, biodiversity pressures, and declining resources could lead to a future where existing processes and practices relating to biosecurity are not sufficient.
Here are the potential megashocks:
1. A new race of an exotic wheat stem rust. This would mean substantial yield reductions for wheat, with potential yield reductions in other crops.
2. The loss of pollination services from European honey bees due to a multi-state varroa mite incursion. This would mean major economic losses for several of Australia’s fruit, vegetable and nut industries.
3. A new exotic fruit fly hitting Australia’s fruit and vegetable industries.
4. A variant strain of foot and mouth disease, devastating Australia’s livestock export markets including cattle and sheep.
5. A bluetongue outbreak across Australia’s major sheep producing regions. Significant economic losses for Australia’s sheep and wool industries.
6. A highly virulent rust spreads across multiple ecosystems. Widespread environmental damage that threatens several plant species, including food sources for a number of animal species.
7. The government “walks away” from environmental biosecurity. The CSIRO says the outcome for this one is too difficult to predict.
8. The successful establishment of black-striped mussel. Substantial economic losses for a number of industries (including shellfish, fishing and tourism) and significant costs for wharves, marinas and pumping stations.
9. An outbreak of infectious salmon anaemia. The decimation of Australia.s salmon industry
10. A nationwide zoonotic disease epidemic. Widespread human infection with the potential for high fatalities.
11. A bioterrorist attack. Significant human infection within a particular region, with likely fatalities, depending on the type of attack.
12. A rapid spike in antimicrobial resistance. A significant rise in fatalities associated with bacterial and viral infections