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Applying for general release or release with controls

Identification and assessment of risks, costs and benefits

Risks and costs

All foreseeable and reasonable effects of the proposal must be identified systematically to ensure that nothing is left unconsidered. Those that are considered likely to have significant effect must then be assessed. The applicant must explain how the risk identification was conducted, and explain the basis on which some risks were eliminated as insignificant. Risk is assessed by combining estimates of likelihood and consequence. Both the magnitude and probability of the adverse effect need to be described for a risk to be properly assessed. In some cases, the likelihood or probability may depend on a complex pathway between the source of the risk and the adverse effect. Risks and costs should be quantified where possible, in either monetary or non-monetary terms. However, quantitative analysis is unlikely to be helpful if there is little data to apply to the problem, if the effect is likely to be highly variable, or where there is uncertainty about the likelihood of the effect occurring. On the other hand, if the potential risk or cost is likely to be large and likely, data should be sought to quantify that risk.

The central issue for every application to introduce a biological control agent will be the risk, and consequences of attack on native and valued introduced fauna and flora. Other effects directly associated with the introduction of a population of the biological control agent might be competition with, or displacement of, resident species, or the effect on predators or alternate hosts. Indirect effects of introducing the biological control agent might include changes in the populations of other species through food webs or tri-trophic effects. Other indirect effects may result from the suppression of the host, for example land instability following weed control. Applicants should identify risks, cost and benefits de novo for each proposed agent.