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Section 3
Legislative frameworks for phytosanitary measures

Information digest of section 3

Section 3 discusses legal regimes for plant health regulation, pointing out aspects relevant to the management of invasive alien species. Chapter 7 offers a plan of action for countries that might be looking for ways to adapt national phytosanitary legislation and systems to better control invasive alien species. Chapters 8 and 9 discuss recent developments in national phytosanitary regulation in particular countries, namely China and India. (It should also be noted that chapter 6 in the preceding section deals with the phytosanitary system of the European Union.)

Assessing a phytosanitary regime for control of invasive alien species

Chapter 7 details a methodology that could be used by countries in identifying and assessing their institutional and legislative frameworks for the control of invasive alien species. Based on work in Ghana, the methodology merits consideration by other jurisdictions (especially developing states that adhere to the common law tradition) for its applicability to their situation.

Elements and stages of the methodology are:

Box 1: General components of legislation on control of invasive alien species

The scope of the legislation explains precisely and concisely what the law covers and its stated objectives; for example, “An Act for the prevention of the introduction and spread of pest of plants, plant products and related matters”.

The definition of terms could be adopted from the relevant instruments, especially the CBD and the IPPC.

The institutional or organizational basis for the control of invasive alien species could include provision for a plant protection organization and a technical advisory body, for example.

Enforcement provisions could include specific powers or functions for enforcement officers, conditions for the importation and exportation of plant and plant products and quarantine provisions.

Offences and penalties include penalties for convictions for violations on the basis of due process.

Financial provisions include the power to levy fees and financial autonomy for the NPPO.

Special procedures could include immunities for officials for acts done in good faith.

Appeal processes and procedures should be described.

Provision for international cooperation and collaboration (especially with neighbouring states) is included because the source of invasive alien species is usually external.

The power to make regulations is given to the minister or relevant authority to enable the law to meet changing circumstances.

The next step is sometimes an arduous task: an in-depth examination of each of the various sources of law to ascertain whether or not any provisions address the subject of invasive alien species. In the absence of a specific enactment on invasive alien species, the legislation in each relevant sector (e.g. forestry, wildlife, wetlands, marine environment, plant protection) could be examined.

The large number of relevant institutions in the field of control of invasive alien species (e.g. ministries or agencies for agriculture, health, environment, transport, justice, interior and trade, environmental protection, customs and immigration) may lead to conflicts, overlaps and gaps in the regime. This may require the strengthening of the lead agency or the creation of a coordinating body within the existing regime. The choice will influence the form of legislation to be adopted.

In the preparation of the legislation, one of three identified approaches could be adopted:

The components of legislation on the control of invasive alien species are likely to be those listed in box 1.

Developments in phytosanitary regulation in China

China has analysed its existing legislation and regulations in relation to the IPPC framework and is updating plant quarantine regulations to harmonize them with international agreements and standards. It has also initiated efforts to prevent and contain invasive alien species, which have proved a significant problem to China (see box 2).

The two principal pieces of legislation relating to the phytosanitary system are:

Box 2: The problem of invasive alien species in China

Invasive alien species have caused notable economic losses in agricultural and forestry production. Examples include three alien species of leafminer (Liriomyza sativae, L. huidobrensis, L. trifolii), pinewood nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus) and fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea). Other alien organisms have had serious consequences for biodiversity, in particular, crofton weed (Eupatorium adenophorum), common cordgrass (Spartina anglica) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).

Some of the reasons why invasive alien species have been a major problem in China are:

  • increasing international trade of plants and their products

  • suitable habitats for invasive alien species within the variety of ecosystems in China’s vast territory

  • poor integration of the national phytosanitary management system, with separate external and internal quarantine systems and sometimes inconsistent laws, rules and regulations

  • a shortage of quarantine facilities and basic instruments for quarantine and inspection, and lack of a reliable early-warning system.

Initiatives to update the legislation and build phytosanitary capacity will help in the country’s efforts in risk identification and management of invasive alien species.

The latter is being updated to meet the requirements of the IPPC framework and relevant international standards. The proposed new legislation will attempt to align all the definitions with the international standards. Items such as pest free area and pest risk analysis will be included. China is putting a lot of effort into conforming well with the market economy and international law.

A nation-wide, general investigation of agricultural plant pests has been conducted to gain information of epidemic situations and to establish a pest information system. It is the basis for a new pest early-warning system.

China’s programme to harmonize national phytosanitary standards with the provisions of the IPPC include:

In recent years, China has adopted many international standards in its routine work. In general, however, there are still not enough national standards for plant quarantine.

To deal with the problem of invasive alien species China recognizes that it is necessary to cooperate with other countries or areas and to use the measures of the country of origin of an alien species as a reference point. It needs the techniques, methods of management, information and economic assistance to prevent the further spread and negative impacts of invasive alien species.

Developments in phytosanitary regulation in India

India has approved a new Plant Quarantine (Regulation of Import into India) Order, 2003 (“the new Order”) as a step forward in harmonizing India’s regulatory framework with the IPPC and internationally accepted standards and the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. Supporting improvements cover the entire gamut of the country’s quarantine activity and phytosanitary border controls, including import and export inspections, on-field surveillance for pests and vectors, treatment standards and processes, and certification methodology.

Plant quarantine efforts are focused on:

Noteworthy changes resulting from the 2003 new Order for plant quarantine include a wider scope of plant quarantine activities and pest risk analysis as a precondition for certain imports. There has also been a dramatic increase in notified points of entry, which have increased from 59 to 130. The new Order places a prohibition on the import of commodities contaminated with weeds and/or alien species. Import of packaging material of plant origin is restricted unless the material has been treated.

Agricultural imports are now classified as one of the following: prohibited plant species; restricted species where import is permitted only by authorized institutions; restricted species permitted only with additional declarations of freedom from quarantine and/or regulated pests and subject to specified treatment certifications; or plant material imported for consumption or industrial processing permitted with normal phytosanitary certification.

India’s new Order for plant quarantine aligns with the IPPC framework in several important ways:

India’s action plan for pest risk analysis took effect from December 2003. A major feature is the establishment of a national pest risk analysis unit. The plan also includes organizing PRA training, establishing working groups and holding a workshop attended by national and international experts to prioritize crops and commodities for pest risk analysis. Commodities selected for detailed pest risk analysis over the next few years include fruit (e.g. banana, apple, citrus), pulses (e.g. black and green gram), cereals (e.g. pearl millet, maize, sorghum), oilseeds (e.g. sunflower, linseed, rape seed) and fibres (e.g. cotton, jute).

India’s national integrated pest management (IPM) programme is considered to be the mechanism with which to prevent and control the threat posed by invasive alien species within the country. State governments, non-governmental organizations, private sector organizations, research institutions and farmer self-help groups are involved in the surveillance and detection of pests and diseases. They are capable of taking environmentally friendly corrective action within the IPM scheme.

Points to note

Section 3 provides one generalized scheme and two country-specific accounts of legislative review and change to modernize national phytosanitary frameworks and include measures relevant to invasive alien species that are plant pests. Aspects of general relevance include:

This digest consists of information extracted from section 3, together with some background material and explanatory comment. For the full detail, argument, examples and supporting references, please refer to the following chapters 7-9.

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