Rome, 18 March 2002 - Around 90
countries have agreed on new guidelines on wood
packaging material that may contain dangerous
wood-eating insects, the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) said today.
guidelines recognise the possibility of pests being
introduced and spread by packaging material made of
unprocessed raw wood. These pests can pose a serious threat to
living trees, FAO said.
adopted by the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures
(ICPM) of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
seek to harmonise different national regulations on wood
In recent years, for
example, the US has imposed quarantine measures aimed at
preventing the introduction of Asian long-horned beetles in wood
packaging material from China; China has introduced its own
treatment and documentation requirements for wood packing from
the US that might harbour the pinewood nematode; and the
European Union has adopted regulations to control nematodes in
coniferous packaging from both the US and China.
At issue is not only the protection of forests from
imported pests, but the free flow of world trade, because wood
packaging material, in the form of pallets, crates, boxes or
dunnage, is used in up to 70 percent of all cargoes shipped
between nations, FAO said.
that the packaging material is pest-free, exporters would need
to certify with a globally recognised symbol, that the material
has been heated or fumigated.
"The new guidelines will significantly help
to reduce the risk of pest spread", said Robert
Griffin, coordinator of the IPPC Secretariat based at FAO.
"It will be both an immediate benefit to traders and
the shipping industry and a means of enhancing protection of the
Unjustified phytosanitary measures can act as trade
barriers, Griffin warned. "These protective measures
need to be harmonised globally through the use of international
standards to ensure safe trade. Protection needs to be based on
legitimate concerns, they should not create trade
Among the 13
international standards adopted since 1993 under the IPPC are
guidelines for pest risk analysis, requirements for the
establishment of pest free areas, and a code of conduct for the
import and release of biological control agents.
"Standards, guidelines and recommendations developed
under the IPPC are recognised by the World Trade Organization as
the most appropriate means for harmonisation," Griffin
For developing countries it is
increasingly difficult to meet international standards of
trading partners, because they lack the expertise and
infrastructure. For this reason, FAO and developed countries are
providing technical assistance and training to modernise
phytosanitary measures in developing countries so that they can
meet international obligations.