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Thursday, 5 March  2009  Branched broomrape

Branched broomrape is a dangerous weed and a parasite that grows on other plants and takes all its nutrition from them.


MICHELLE THIELE (FARMER): That's it, that's what this whole fiasco is about.

SIMON ROYAL: Branched broomrape was discovered on Michelle Thiele's property 80 k east of Adelaide in 1999. This example is dead and doesn't look too threatening, but Michelle Thiele believes there is little scientific evidence that living broomrape is much more dangerous.

MICHELLE THIELE: They have claimed that it is as virulent as they are and they have finally done the DNA testing and it is not. Then they have done host testing and in most cases they have had actually had to prime the seed to get it to germinate, to get it to attach.

SIMON ROYAL: Michelle Thiele is part of the focus group set up to battle broomrape.
She says there is growing scepticism over the weed. There is even an argument that the much feared alien invader may just be a native.

MICHELLE THIELE: It is not as big bad a plant as they first thought it was and DNA testing has shown it is almost not the same plant as what they thought it was.

SIMON ROYAL: But the man who runs the State's $4 million branched broomrape eradication program is convinced he is dealing with a real life horror.

ROGER WICKES (CHIEF EXECUTIVE, BROOMRAPE PROGRAMME): It is not something that was done before, the science is very clear this is definitely a species that could do a lot of damage to Australia, to both its export income and also to its production of horticultural and all type species.

SIMON ROYAL: That threat hasn't come to pass. Horticulture in South Australia remains safe. But broomrape has been found on weeds which grow in cereal crops in the mallee and it is those farmers whose properties are now quarantined, some since the late 1990s.

MICHELLE THIELE: Broomrape is not a problem for us as farmers, it is everyone else's problem but we are the ones carrying the can.

HELEN MCGORMAN (FARMER): It has absolutely no effect whatsoever on our cereal crops, on our pastures, in fact it is known that sheep will eat it.
Up the road from the Thiele's property is Helen McGorman's place as Sanderston. Branch broomrape was found here five years ago. Helen McGorman says there has never been a reoccurrence since. Despite that, she believes there is no chance they will be out of quarantine anytime soon and that is why farmers are angry.

ROGER WICKES: The danger is we need to actually maintain a strong quarantine and we have got a very good relationship with farmers at the moment and we don't want to get to the point where we have to start using more legislative mechanisms to control it.

SIMON ROYAL: But if the authorities think the relationship is happy then they are not hearing people like Helen McGorman.

HELEN MCGORMAN: Well, if I am bucking the system, we are bucking the system because the system isn't working for us.



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English Bites - Branched broomrape
story notes

 Adelaide
 
The farmers in today’s story live in South Australia just east of Adelaide.
 

 too
 
When too means 'more than' it's spelled too and not to. Follow the link below to our language library for more information.
 
more information: to too

 virulent
 
If something is virulent it is dangerous and spreads easily.

 host
 
The host is a plant a parasite lives on.

 prime
 
prepare

 germinate
 
begin to grow

 scepticism
 
Scepticism refers to a feeling of doubt about an idea or belief.

 alien invader
 
Alien refers to something foreign, something that does not belong. An invader is someone who enters by force and takes over an area.

 shown
 
Shown is the past participle of the irregular verb show. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: show

 thought
 
Here thought is the past tense of the irregular verb think. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: think

 done
 
Done is the past participle of the irregular verb do. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: do

 export income
 
the money made from selling goods overseas

 come to pass
 
happen
 
Example: I'm starting to think that the new bridge will never come to pass.

 found
 
Here found is the past participle of the irregular verb find. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: find

 carrying the can
 
To carry the can is to acept the blame or responsibility for something.
 
Example: It's not fair that only teachers are expected to carry the can for the poor performance of the students.

 known
 
Known is the past participle of the irregular verb know. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: know

 quarantine
 
Quarantine refers to the system of keeping animals or plants that may have a disease isolated from the population.

 legislative mechanisms
 
laws

 bucking the system
 
To buck the system is to obstinately resist authority or object strongly to it.
 
Example: How does she manage to buck the system and take so much time off?
 
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