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Australian farmers, biosecurity experts scramble to contain invasive moth pest

(Xinhua)    09:24, February 25, 2020

SYDNEY, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- An urgent industry roundtable is currently being planned by the Australia State Government of Queensland on Tuesday, to discuss the emergence of a devastating invasive pest that could threaten the Tropical North's 13 billion Australian (8.6 billion U.S.) dollar agriculture sector.

With a new discovery on a farm in the northwestern Gulf region now in the process of testing, biosecurity authorities fear the Fall Armyworm moth could already have spread to other parts the state.

"This is disappointing but not entirely unexpected after recent detections in the Torres Strait and at Bamaga," Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said in a statement.

"If confirmed, it means the pest is likely to be widespread across northern Australia and eradication is therefore not possible."

"This pest moves and reproduces fast, is already common in our nearest neighbours, and could be continually reintroduced. It has never been eradicated anywhere else in the world."

In contact with the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, Furner said at some stage this week, industry leaders and policymakers will sit down to draft an immediate action plan on how to manage the inevitable impacts.

"After the drought, bushfires and floods, this is the last thing our producers need but we must tackle it with all available resources," Furner said.

Native to North, Central and South America, the 40 mm moths are brown with white stripes and are able to feast on hundreds of different plant species, including maize, rice, sorghum, sugarcane and wheat and cotton.

The unwelcome visitors can fly up to 500 kilometres to relocated, making them virtually impossible to contain.

"The Queensland Government will work closely with industry to identify strategies for dealing with this new threat and protecting our valuable plant resources," Furner said.

"As well as the industry roundtable, a task force is being established within the department to ensure communication with industry is as effective and up to date as it can be."

"This group will also identify and mobilize any resources that will be required to respond to immediate needs."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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