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"Road-blocks" for plant pests moving with international trade

04/03/2009Since the earliest instances of trade, pests and other invasive species have been taking the opportunity to hitch-hike a ride to new production– and ecosystems. Over the centuries many plant pests have been moved by trade and the movement of people, and successfully established themselves in their new habitats. This has often caused enormous damage to agriculture, horticulture, forestry and the environment. Newly introduced plant pests even caused famines claiming the lives of millions of people and displacing millions of others. The large increase of world trade has multiplied the opportunities for plant pests to hitch-hike a ride to greener fields.

The only strategy to prevent plants pests from colonizing new eco- and production systems is to minimize their introduction into these new areas. In most cases and for more than a hundred years, national governments have tried to prevent these new pest introductions into their countries through the establishment of phytosanitary import legislation. National phytosanitary import measures are an important strategy in preventing the trans-boundary movement of pests. To face the challenges of globalization and international trade, however, only a global strategy to limit introductions of pests and other invasive species through trade can be effective.

The international phytosanitary framework that governs phytosanitary issues related to the trans-boundary movement of plants and plant products is the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and its associated International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs). This framework provides the rules by which the germplasm, plants and plant products are moved around the world while ensuring the risks of associated plant pests are minimal. The scope of this convention is broad and covers agricultural crops, forestry, biological control agents, and any plants in the environment. The IPPC is also the body that establishes the international plant health standards for the World Trade Organization Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (WTO-SPS Agreement).

The governing body of the IPPC (the Commission for Phytosanitary Measures – CPM) will be meeting in Rome from 30 March through 3 April 2009 to discuss various matters related to trade and phytosanitary measures. New ISPMs will be considered for adoption. More details on this meeting can be found at: https://www.ippc.int/id/202724?language=en

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