Beware! Pests on the high seas

Contributed by Roger Day, CABI

If you put all the shipping containers in the world end to end, the line would go round the world 5 times. So a problem with a very small proportion of them is still a pretty big problem.

One such problem is that when a container is being packed with cargo, pests can get in and hitch a free ride to another country. So in 2008, the 3rd Session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM3) directed an expert working group to start developing an international standard for “Minimizing pest movement by sea containers”.

When a sea container is being packed with cargo, pests can get in and hitch a free ride to another country which can create considerable problems.

When a sea container is being packed with cargo, pests can get in and hitch a free ride to another country, creating considerable problems. Photo: http://www.europhoning.fr

CPM 5 (2010) directed that work on the topic was urgent, and a draft standard was produced, but at CPM7, after lengthy discussions late into the evening, it became “clear that this complex topic needed further consideration”.

Meanwhile, the expert working group was talking to the International Maritime Organisation and others who agreed to include phytosanitary requirements in their new Code of Practice for packing containers.

CPM9 (2014), perhaps a little frustrated at the speed of progress, decided that while work on the standard continued, a draft recommendation be prepared.

And so it was that this week CPM10 adopted a recommendation on sea containers. The risks need to be recognised, communicated to all those involved, and implementation of the Code of Practice supported. Where justified and practical, National Plant Protection Organisations should take action to mitigate the risks.

Which all goes to show that developing international standards is rarely plain sailing.

Back to the future at CPM10

Contributed by Roger Day, CABI

CPM10 has heard how the Strategic Planning Group (SPG) indulged in a little well-considered phytosanitary “future-casting” at its 2014 meeting. Challenged by the secretariat to think about what the IPPC might look like 20 years from now, members came up with over 60 points for reflection, grouped into 7 areas:

  • Technology, innovation and data
  • Resource mobilisation
  • Advocacy and awareness through strong communication
  • Implementation, participation and collaboration
  • The IPPC as a centre of excellence and innovation
  • The IPPC contribution to food security, environmental protection and economic prosperity
  • Simplified regulatory environment for the complexities of future global trade

The CPM is frequently told that funding constraints limit activities, so it’s disappointing (if realistic) that the phyto-prophets don’t see this problem going away any time soon.

Looking a little less far into the future, 2020 could well be the very first International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). CPM enthusiastically endorsed the idea, so now the extensive planning has to begin, with details to be presented to CPM11.

And also with an eye to the future, plans are advancing for the development of an electronic phytosanitary certificate system, e-phyto. Despite some concerns over costs and cyber-security issues, many contracting parties are keen to get started, and a proposal has been submitted to the Standards and Trade Development Facility to fund the development work.

20 years ago the CPM’s forerunner, the Interim Commission, didn’t even exist. Could anyone then have foretold what CPM10 would be discussing?

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (18 Mar 15)

White rust, seen here on mustard, causes white growths on the underside of leaves and yellow spotting on the top © Scot Nelson

White rust, seen here on mustard, causes white growths on the underside of the leaf and yellow spotting on the top © Scot Nelson

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include new gall midges from Papua New Guinea, the first report of white rust of rocket caused by Albugo candida in South Africa and the first report of Botrytis pseudocinerea causing gray mold on tomato in central China. 

Read more of this post

Old friends and new faces at CPM10

Blog  Commission on Phytosanitary Measurespost by Roger Day, Deputy Regional Director (Development), CABI Africa.
As delegates gathered for the opening of the 10th session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) at FAO in Rome, it was clear from the greetings and smiles, not to mention hugs and kisses, that many of them know each other well already. That’s probably a good thing.  The International Plant Protection Convention aims to secure “common and effective action to prevent the spread and introduction of pests of plants and plant products”, and good collaboration is based on mutual trust and understanding. Read more of this post

Tuta absoluta on the rampage in Africa

Abigail Rumsey:

Plantwise plant doctors have been helping farmers in Kenya to identify and manage the devastating invasive tomato pest, Tuta absoluta.

Originally posted on CABI Invasives Blog:

Watch a new video illustrating the devastating impacts that Tuta absoluta is having on tomato yields, and what this means for farmers who rely on these crops for sustenance and income.

Dr Arne Witt, from CABI commented on the implications of Tuta absoluta infestation across Africa

“Tomatoes are one of the most widely cultivated crops in Africa and are grown in the backyards of almost every homestead across sub-Saharan Africa. This important cash crop and source of vitamins is now threatened by the recent arrival of the tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta.

This Invasive Alien Species is rapidly moving down the African continent, having already decimated crops in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and northern Tanzania. Growers are at their wits end as to how best they can control this pest and many have abandoned tomato growing altogether. The race is on to prevent its spread further south with various interventions planned…

View original 28 more words

Plant clinics help improve yields in Machakos, Kenya

Plant doctor John Mutisya examining a potato sample at the Katoloni plant clinic Credit: David Onyango © CABI

John Mutisya, a plant doctor at the Katoloni plant clinic examines a potato sample
Credit: David Onyango © CABI

“Approximately 300 farmer-self help groups from Machakos County and its environs under the Katoloni community-based organization have registered improved crop yields in the last one year due to high levels of sensitization on crop pest and diseases at plant clinics in the region,” writes Maugo Owiti of HiviSasa.com.

In the article, Pius Ndaka, a farmer from Iluvya village shares the benefits he has experienced from the Katoloni plant clinic.

Click here to read the full story

Image of the Week: Smartphone Microscope

Originally posted on Wellcome Trust Blog:

smartphone microscope

2015 is the UN’s International Year of Light, and to celebrate, the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt University is launching a smartphone microscope competition for students.

‘Enlightenment: Build it, See it, Show it’ aims to get schoolchildren across Scotland building their own microscopes from kits, and using them to take amazing close-up images to reveal the hidden details of the world around them.

The Enlightenment team recently demonstrated the smartphone microscopes at the Scottish launch of the International Year of Light, which took place at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The image above shows a smartphone that has been transformed into a microscope being used to examine a leaf.

School pupils and adults alike were amazed by what they could see using their own phones and a simple piece of kit. We took visitors on a hands-on journey of fluorescent microscopy, demonstrating how animals such as…

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