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.

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.



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