This week we’ve been reporting from the 12th session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, which successfully drew to a close, having produced concrete tools to support plant protection through the adoption of 25 International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs). Under the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), the IPPC is recognized as the international standard setting body for plant health, and WTO members are encouraged to use these ISPMs to address phytosanitary concerns. When members apply these standards for plant protection, they are likely to be safe from legal challenge through a WTO dispute. A record number of ISPMs were submitted for consideration and adopted during the CPM, attesting to the continued demand for the development of standards.
The 12th session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) featured a full day of talks covering a range of topics related to plant health. The day began with a session on the benefits (and also the challenges) of implementing the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs).
A talk given by the Executive Director of the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association, Ron Campbell, compellingly documented the monetary and employment benefits of the export of Hass avocados for both the exporting country, Mexico, and the importing country, the USA. This case study detailed how implementing just under 20 key ISPMs had enabled avocado exporters from the Mexican state of Michoacán to gain access to US markets, first in the northern most states of the US and over time to the whole country. While implementation of these standards involved many steps and required significant effort, the benefits to both Mexico and the USA were thousands of jobs across the supply chain and billions of dollars in returns.
The 12th Session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures opened today in Incheon, Republic of Korea. This is significant as it is the first time that the event is being hosted outside of Rome by a member country of the International Plant Protection Convention. This year’s theme is “Plant Health and Trade Facilitation”, so this topic featured prominently during the opening remarks from Mr. Bong-Kyun Park, Commissioner of Animal and Plant Quarantine and Inspection (APQI), and in the keynote address by Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization. Other topics under discussion on the first day of the CPM included proposals for dealing with emerging pest issues requiring global action; for building strategic partnerships with interested stakeholders such as industry groups; and for an ambitious new Strategic Framework for 2020 – 2030.
Last year, one of the strongest El Niño events ever recorded caused significant changes to weather patterns around the world. Southern and Eastern Africa were hit particularly hard and suffered some of the worst drought conditions for decades, with as little as a quarter of the expected rainfall in the last few months of the year1. Drought is still having devastating impacts on crop yields in Africa, and humanitarian crises have been declared in the worst hit countries.
A new UN report states that it is dangerously misleading to suggest that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security. Instead, the report recommends that farms reduce pesticide use and adopt sustainable practices that protect crops from pests by enhancing biodiversity and natural enemies. This agroecological approach eliminates reliance on, and exposure to, expensive and toxic chemical inputs, but would it really allow farmers to be just as productive?
Blog contributed by Nick Quist Nathaniels, Independent Consultant, Denmark
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