The chairwoman of the Australian Garlic Industry Association has pleaded guilty to illegally importing plant material, which may have been infected with Xylella fastidiosa, ABC News reported.
Letitia Anne Ware imported more than 2,000 garlic bulbils from Canada and the United States to Tasmania. The court was told the varieties of garlic that Ware had imported were a known carrier of the deadly plant pathogen.
Xylella fastidiosa has been named the country’s number one plant pest threat by the Australian government’s Department of Agriculture.
“Xylella fastidiosa is the last thing anyone wants coming into the country,” Thomas Jones, the prosecutor in the case, said.
He also told the court that Ware had imported the bulbils in boxes that were intentionally mislabeled as “office supplies” in order to evade detection at customs. Ware pleaded guilty to ten charges and awaits sentencing.
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While handing out his guilty decision, Justice Gregory Geason said Ware had put Tasmania’s entire agricultural sector at “great risk” and a “harsh penalty” would be required to deter similar behavior in the future.
“The fact that they weren’t diseased is just good luck,” he said.