The proposed control agent will only be released after this vigorous testing, peer review and public consultation. It has been tested on 74 plant species to ensure that it does do not attack other plants.
Whilst the natural control agent is not native to the UK, it is ‘native’ to balsam as a host. Only co-evolved natural enemies are considered as control agents and some of these will have sacrificed their ability to feed on other species in order to specialize on the target weed. These are the agents that biocontrol scientists select. By applying internationally-accepted safety testing procedures to a selected agent, it is possible to demonstrate that the risk to UK native biodiversity or crops is negligible and the organism will not be harmful.