NGIA CEO update – May 2017

I was involved in significant activity in May with an NGIA Board meeting and attendance at Hort Connections, the Plant Breeder’s Right Consultative Group, a number of levy funded project steering committees, National Management Group meetings for biosecurity issues, Voice of Horticulture meetings and this week Plant Health Australia meetings. I would like to provide details on some of the key activities from those meetings that I hope is of interest to you.

1. NGIA Board Meeting – held on 24 May:

NGI Network Structure Review – The Terms of Reference (ToR) for the Structural Change Advisory Committee (SCAC) have been finalised and agreed by NGIA and the State NGI Associations. The members of the SCAC are:

  • Karen Brock – NGIA Board
  • Glenn Fenton – Structure Review Committee member
  • Bruce Pike – NGINA
  • Estelle Cornell – NGISA
  • Peter Jong – NGISA

The role of the SCAC is to:

Investigate and report on the finances, systems, technology, governance, functions and roles of the proposed National Unity structure; independently and unbiasedly inform the Members of all relevant information; and seek the endorsement of the NGI Network to facilitate a vote of the Members on a proposed new structure of the Network.

The first meeting of the SCAC is planned for 19 June. More details on the SCAC and how they will manage the ToR process will be provided in due course.

Nursery Production Farm Management System (FMS) –– NGIA has finalised all continuing participants in the Nursery Production FMS Programs - NIASA, EcoHort, BioSecure HACCP. We are now in the process of managing and implementing the marketing, promotion, auditing and other administrative activities for the remainder of 2017.

For more information on the Nursery Production FMS program as a continuing business or a business looking to become involved please refer to the website: www.nurseryproductionfms.com.au

NGIA Conference 2018 – Planning for the NGIA Conference to be held in Tasmania in 2018 is well underway. The date for the Conference is the week commencing 19 February 2018 with the two main days being 20 and 21 February. Please put this in your diary. We will keep you advised of details with the organisation of the conference.

2. Plant Breeder’s Rights Consultative Group (PBRCG):

I attended the PBRCG and its second meeting was conducted in May. The PBRCG replaced the PBR Advisory Committee last year. I sit on the group to ensure the interests and issues of NGI members and the nursery industry more broadly are addressed by the PBRCG. While PBR registration may only impact a number of members directly, it can have far reaching effects through the supply chain from a commercialisation and intellectual property (IP) point of view, which is why it is important to have a nursery representative on the group. The key areas covered in the May meeting were:

  • Update on PBR legislative activities
  • The Productivity Commission inquiry into Australia’s IP arrangements
  • Extending the ability to declare essentially derived varieties
  • The use of the trade mark in ornamental horticulture – requirement to use registered variety names
  • Right of exclusive licensee to sue for infringement

3. Hort Connections:

Hort Connections is a joint industry conference and Trade Show organised by AUSVEG and Produce Marketing Australia-New Zealand Limited (PMA-NZ). NGIA joined the conference as a co-host along with Australian Organic, Irrigation Australia, Fresh Markets Australia, Growcom, Potatoes South Australia and Onions Australia. The co-hosts ensured that there will be value and representation for the entire supply chain.

The nursery industry presence at Hort Connections was very important given nursery businesses are at the beginning of the horticulture production and produce supply chain. We highlighted that through being a co-host and John McDonald making a presentation on "Reducing the Biosecurity Risk in Planting Material". We will consider future involvement at Hort Connections based on an assessment of how beneficial it was for the nursery industry.

My two favourite quotes from the conference were:

"The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now"

"It's what you do, not what you say."

4. Plant Health Australia (PHA) Meetings:

John McDonald and I attended the following biannual PHA meetings this week:

  • Plant Industries Forum
  • PHA Members Forum
  • Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) Signatories
  • General

The key items of business covered over the meetings were:

  • (Nursery) Industry engagement in national plant biosecurity discussion
  • Plant Biosecurity Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) (and Adoption)
  • PHA Annual Operating Plan, Performance Review and Budget
  • EPPRD issues and amendments

While this may sound like an onerous and bureaucratic group of meetings, our involvement is vital for industry to keep you updated on all activities with respect to biosecurity awareness, preparedness and management of pest and disease incursions to protect your business and the industry more generally.

GM Petunias:

NGIA has been in contact with the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) on the issue of genetically modifies petunias in Australia. You, as a nursery industry representative, may have been contacted by your suppliers/distributors of plants or genetic material about unauthorised genetically modified (GM) petunias entering the Australian market. The OGTR is taking the following actions on this matter:

“Following an initial report that GM petunias had been found on the market in Finland, a Japanese supplier has informed us that they have been distributing one of the varieties of petunia (African Sunset) which has been shown to have been genetically modified (GM). Other varieties known to be present in Australia which have been shown to be GM are Trilogy Deep Purple, Trilogy Mango and Trilogy Red.

The petunias are not considered to pose a risk to human health or the environment. However, because there is no Australian authorisation for GM petunias they cannot legally be sold. The task for the Australian authorities is therefore to ensure that no marketing of GM petunias is taking place. The Regulator is the responsible authority for Australia as supported by her office (the OGTR).

The Regulator is informing importers and producers of petunia plants and seeds in Australia and making it clear that GM plants must not be marketed and asking them to confirm if they are holding petunias listed above, or any of the following varieties which overseas authorities have found (or suspect to be) GM:

Pegasus Orange, Pegasus Orange Morn, Pegasus Table Orange, Potunia Plus Papaya, Go!Tunia Orange, Bonnie Orange – known as Starlet Orange in North America, Sanguna Patio Salmon, Sanguna Salmon, Ray Salmon, Perfectunia Orange, Perfectunia Mandarin, Confetti Garden Tangerine Tango, Confetti Garden Twist, KwikKombo Color My Sunset, KwikKombo Orange Twist, and Trilogy ’76 Mix-Liberty Mix, Fortunia Early Orange, Hells Bells Improved, Petunia Salmon Ray, Sweetunia Orange Flash.

Where stocks are being held the OGTR is following this up and, as necessary, will ensure that GM material is not being sold. In practice we understand that importers/producers have already moved to withdraw suspect material from the market. We do not envisage that special measures are needed for the disposal of affected plants, given that they are not thought to be a risk.

At this stage it is not clear how GM material has got into the petunia supply chain. The evidence suggests GM plants have been introduced inadvertently rather than deliberately. We are working with local and international authorities to identify the source of the breeding material with a view to preventing further occurrences.

Should you have any queries, please feel free to contact our office.”

Please refer to the article in the NNN newsletter for more details.

Please contact me of the OGTR on 1800 181 030 if you would like to discuss this matter.

As usual please contact me ceo@ngia.com.au if you have any questions, comments or concerns on the operation of NGIA and any feedback on this edition of the NNN email.

I can confirm that the PHA meetings are onerous and bureaucratic.

Kind regards

Peter Vaughan

NGIA CEO