Australia has banned imports of California table grapes because of fears they may spread the grape virus Pierce's disease.

Australia's quarantine watchdog, Biosecurity Australia, rejected today an application to import grapes saying they may bring with them the glassy-winged sharp shooter (GWSS), an insect that carries Pierce's disease, which has ravaged the California wine industry.

The Australian authorities said there was too much risk in allowing the importation of California grapes. An initial report last year had backed the importation of California grapes, causing a backlash of industry condemnation.

Biosecurity Australia, reopened its investigation after further reports of the devastation the GWSS had caused in the US reached Australia. There were also concerns about the proposed methods that were to be put in place to control the GWSS.