EPPO Council Colloquium (Angers, FR, 2009-09-24)

‘Increasing trade, changing climate, emerging pests: Is the plant health sector prepared?’



After the administrative session of the EPPO Council which took place in Angers (2009-09-22/23), a Colloquium was organized to discuss the following theme: ‘Increasing trade, changing climate, emerging pests: Is the plant health sector prepared?’ At the kind invitation by the French NPPO, the Colloquium took place at the national reference laboratory which is located in Angers. More than 50 participants from 33 countries attended this Colloquium. Dr Caffier (Director of the laboratory) was particularly glad to welcome the Colloquium to the brand new buildings of the laboratory and wished the participants successful discussions on this topical theme. Warm thanks are due to Dr Caffier and his colleagues for the fine organization of the meeting and their warm welcome in Angers.



Outline of the Colloquium  

The Colloquium started with a general presentation from Mr Unger (JKI, Germany) about the current philosophy of plant health in Europe, its advantages and disadvantages. He considered that there were possibilities for improvement of the current plant health system, in particular to better address the risks presented by the trade of plants for planting. He also underlined the necessity for rapid action and availability of sufficient and adequate resources within NPPOs. Dr Brasier (Forestry Commission, United Kingdom) emphasized the high risks presented by the trade of plants for planting, illustrated by the ever growing list of Phytophthora species emerging in many parts of the world, affecting woody plants in nurseries and natural environments. By analysing interception reports and recent pest introductions, Ms Roy (EPPO Secretariat) showed that imports of ornamentals and woody plants were risky pathways. Ms Petter (EPPO Secretariat) explained that the EPPO Panels had recognized the importance of these pathways and presented the work that has already been achieved by the Organization (PRAs, EPPO Standards on inspection procedures and general phytosanitary procedures). Views about possible improvements of the current plant health system, in particular to avoid the entry and spread of new pests, were presented by NAKtuinbouw and the NPPOs of Israel and France. Mr van Ruiten (NAKtuinbouw, NL) emphasized the role of nurseries in the plant health system and the importance of their collaboration with the NPPOs. He also highlighted that certification schemes were useful tools for the growers to produce healthy planting material. Ms Freund (NPPO, IL) explained how Israel was strenghthening its capacities in the fields of diagnostics and PRA to better address the risks when importing new commodities. She also stressed the need for further harmonization of diagnostic protocols. Finally, Ms Soubeyran (NPPO, FR) underlined the necessity for NPPOs to act rapidly when confronted with new outbreaks and the importance of establishing close cooperation with nurseries in order to achieve eradication or containment.


Discussions continued in small groups and the following questions were addressed: Is the European plant health system robust enough to deal with the challenges of increasing trade and changing climate? Is the emergence of new pests a consequence of failures of the current plant health system? How could the plant health system be further improved? The participants made detailed proposals on how plant health systems could be improved in the EPPO region, on how NPPOs and nurseries in both exporting and importing countries should work together, and on how EPPO could contribute to these future improvements. In particular, there was agreement that the risk-based approach should continue to be used when establishing plant health strategies, and that early warning and rapid phytosanitary actions were essential when faced with new outbreaks. Concerns were expressed about the consequences of the decreasing number of registered plant protection products available for controlling pest outbreaks. It was also recognized that communication should be facilitated between all stakeholders (e.g. NPPOs, growers, traders, general public) when new outbreaks were discovered. The development of codes of conduct (e.g. for nurseries or traders) to prevent the entry and spread of pests might be a possibility that remains to be explored. The Colloquium also considered that the development of 'horizontal safeguards' (e.g. general requirements for soil or plants for planting) should be enhanced both at European and global level (i.e. an ISPM for plants for planting).


Mr van Opstal (Director-General of EPPO) concluded that the Colloquium had been very helpful in clarifying concerns expressed by the participants in view of the interceptions/outbreaks observed in the EPPO region, and in identifying future improvements in the plant health system. The preliminary conclusions made by this Colloquium will continue to be discussed within the EPPO bodies (Executive Committee, Working Parties and Panels).



Philosophy behind the current system to protect the EPPO region against introduction and spread of plant pests
Jens Unger (JKI, Braunschweig, DE)

Scientific and operational weaknesses of the current system to prevent entry and spread of plant pathogens
Prof. Clive Brasier (Forestry Commission, GB)

EPPO addressing non-specific risks posed by the imports of ornamental plants: analysis of the Panel on Phytosanitary Measures and the Working Party on Phytosanitary Regulations
Anne-Sophie Roy & Françoise Petter (EPPO Secretariat)

How could we improve the robustness of systems to prevent the entry and spread of plant pests?

View of horticultural propagation sector
John van Ruiten (Naktuinbouw, Roelofarendsveen, NL)

View of the NPPO of Israel
Miriam Freund (Plant Protection and Inspection Services, Bet Dagan, IL)

View of the NPPO of France
Emmanuelle Soubeyran (DGAL, Sous-Direction de la qualité et de la Protection des Végétaux, Paris, FR)