Criticisms about the safety of biological control of alien plants has resulted in a risk-averse approach, where the risks posed by the agent are paramount and the risks posed by the alien plant are neglected. We argue that the risk associated with non target damage from agents needs to be assessed relative to that of their target alien plants. A literature review of the non-target risks associated with biological control agents was undertaken in terms of the risk to native species from agents relative to the risk to native species from their alien plant targets. We then developed a framework that compares the consequence with the likelihood of non-target damage for both agents and their targets to provide an overall risk rating. Assessments of the risk of damage from both agents and their target alien plants will enable researchers, managers and policy makers to better assess the risks from biological control.