Smut risk drives calls for Argentinian peanut ban

Don’t come the raw prawn: Ban Argentinian peanuts

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ARGENTINE RISK: Wooroolin peanut grower Mark Young and LNP deputy leader Deb Frecklington inspecting South Burnett crops.

ARGENTINE RISK: Wooroolin peanut grower Mark Young and LNP deputy leader Deb Frecklington inspecting South Burnett crops.

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Argentinian imports of raw and unshelled nuts are said to pose an unacceptable risk to Queensland’s peanut industry.

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THE push is on to suspend peanut imports from Argentina pending an immediate review of all associated risks following an outbreak of smut disease.

The call follows increased sensitivity to food imports following the disastrous outbreak of white spot disease, which has wiped out the prawn industry on the Logan River as well as Panama disease in bananas and verroa mites affecting bees. 

LNP opposition agriculture spokesman Dale Last said peanut smut was widespread across Argentinian growing areas.

How smut affects peanuts. Photo - ResearchGate

How smut affects peanuts. Photo - ResearchGate

Mr Last said imports of raw and unshelled nuts posed an unacceptable risk to the state’s peanut industry near Kingaroy.

“Pending the outcome, the review could facilitate resumption of imports of lower risk processed peanuts,” Mr Last said.

“The last thing Queensland agriculture needs is another exotic disease or pest. If there’s any level of risk then imports must stop.”

The peanut smut life cycle.

The peanut smut life cycle.

CLICK HERE for more information from ResearchGate on peanut smut in Argentina.

LNP deputy leader Deb Frecklington said the big danger was that if smut became established there was no way it could be eradicated.

“It is a disease that causes big production losses of up to 20 per cent and more, and once land becomes infected it has to be taken out of production,” Ms Frecklington said.

“We need to keep our peanut industry smut-free.”

Mr Last said any new biosecurity risk was unacceptable given the recent devastation of southern Queensland prawn farms by white spot disease, Panama disease in bananas in North Queensland and the on-going spread of Asian honey bees – carriers of the highly-destructive Verroa mites that could wipe out the local honey industry.

Ms Frecklington said Kingaroy growers were not impressed with comments from Canberra bureaucrats about “risk-based biosecurity” and the government’s ability to respond to “new and emerging international pest and disease threats”.

“Until there can be an iron-clad guarantee from Canberra that there is no risk from bringing smut in from Argentina, then imports should cease,” Ms Frecklington said.

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