With a delicate tap of her wooden gavel, chairperson Ms Kyu-Ock Yim signalled adoption of the report of the 10th Session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM10) late on Friday afternoon. Delegates applauded; with satisfaction, with relief, in appreciation of the chair? Perhaps a bit of everything.
Ms Yim will be back to chair CPM11, which was provisionally scheduled for 4-8 April 2016 in Rome.
But tributes were paid to participants for whom this CPM may well have been their last – at least in their current role. Mr John Hedley (New Zealand) was recognized for his “lifetime commitment to the goals of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)”, and it’s hard to overestimate the contribution he has made. He was the first chair of the Interim Commission in 1998, since when he has served in numerous roles, latterly as a member of the Standards Committee.
Ms Jane Chard (UK) has also served for many years on the standards committee, but this was her last CPM as committee chair, surely one of the most demanding jobs in any of the CPM’s subsidiary bodies. And Ms Ana Peralta of the IPPC Secretariat was thanked for her major contributions particularly in the area of capacity development.
Many delegates will be back again next year, and CPM11 will be the usual mixture of old friends and new faces. But as CPM10 delegates parted ways, it was a case of “Fare thee well! And if for ever, still for ever, fare thee well” (Byron).
Some of the latest gadgets and gizmos for detecting plant pests were demonstrated and discussed at the 10th Session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures on Thursday.
Inspecting for pests, whether in the field or in consignments, can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. So anything to make it a little bit less hit and miss must be of interest to overworked inspectors. Here are a few of the technologies in different stages of development or deployment.
Electronic noses use ultra‐fast gas chromatography to detect volatile organic compounds, such as those released when a pathogen infects plant tissue. Identifying the chemicals characteristic of a particular disease allows the e-nose to be trained what to sniff for.
But if you can’t smell a pest, maybe you can hear it. The sound of a beetle boring through wood can be picked up using acoustic or vibrometry methods – though clever beetles may learn to sit still and avoid detection.
Many insects can be detected using traps baited with lures such as sex pheromones or food attractants. Smart traps have a camera fitted to send images to the inspector who can check many traps without leaving the office. Smart software can even analyse the images and raise the alarm if need be.
Drones or low-orbit satellites scan large areas at a level of detail impossible on the ground. They also see beyond the visible spectrum, so can potentially detect diseased plants before visual symptoms appear.
Generic DNA methods based on isothermal amplification techniques (LAMP) can provide quick and easy identification of pests located using other methods. Increased speed and decreased costs are making such methods more practical in the field.
It will be a while before some of these technologies become commonplace, especially in developing countries. But technology adoption is hard to predict, so watch this space.
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”.
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.
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
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?
Blog post 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. Continue reading →