Agriculture Committee recommends measures to stimulate trade without spreading plant pests

Adoption of new plant quarantine standards and revision of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) to prevent the introduction of plant pests into new areas through global trade of plant products were some of the recommendations resulting from the 14th session of FAO's Committee on Agriculture (COAG), held from 7 to 11 April 1997 at FAO Headquarters in Rome.

Proposed standards aim to guarantee consistency in plant pest surveillance

The biennial sessions of COAG allow member nations to review the work of FAO programmes, discuss technical issues of particular interest and make recommendations on various international agriculture-related agreements. This year's session was attended by over 100 participants, representing FAO member nations, other UN bodies, and international governmental and non-governmental organizations. Burkino Faso representative Mr Christophe Kiemtore was elected Chairman by the Committee.

The new plant quarantine standards proposed by the Committee are intended to guarantee more consistency in the ways nations conduct surveillance for pests and certify plant products for export as pest-free. If implemented, the new standards would facilitate continued growth in agricultural trade without increased risk of spreading plant insect pests and diseases. Pests introduced along with imported plant products are an increasing threat to plant resources and food supplies as trade in agricultural products has been liberalized and expanded.

Recommended revision of the IPPC - an international agreement obliging countries to take measures to assure the safe import and export of plants and plant products that may transport plant pests - would bring the Convention up to date and in line with the recently concluded Uruguay Round on trade.

The COAG agenda also featured discussion of FAO's work assisting member countries to develop their potential for livestock production. COAG called for caution on certain aspects of livestock resources management: the possible misuse of global statistics, and the need to recognize the importance of small ruminants in some farming systems and of women in animal production as a whole. It also drew attention to the often harmful environmental effects of intensive industrialized livstock production systems.

The next session of COAG will be held early in 1999.


15 May 1997

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