Assessing risks to make informed decisions for safeguarding the health of humans, animals and plants

Contributed by Melanie Bateman, Integrated Crop Management Adviser, CABI Switzerland

WTO 1For the first time since 2000, the World Trade Organisation hosted an international workshop on developments in pest risk analysis (PRA) in October 2014. The previous workshop was held only four years after the signing of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement). Under the SPS Agreement, countries have the sovereign right to maintain measures to ensure that food is safe for consumers and to prevent the spread of pests of animals and plants so long as the measures are not a disguised restriction on international trade. Any SPS measures that a country applies must be scientifically justified. As one speaker put it, “scientific justification is the heart of the SPS Agreement”. Measures that are based on international standards or pest risk analysis are deemed to be based on sound science. Above and beyond that, pest risk analysis matters to everyone – from farmers to foresters to consumers – because it is a tool by which governments identify and head off potential threats to the health of humans, animals and plants. As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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Mexico eradicates Mediterranean fruit fly

Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata)
Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata). ©Daniel Feliciano – CC BY-SA 3.0

Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA) has declared the country free of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata, in a development that is expected to ease trade restrictions and boost the produce industry.

The declaration will positively impact on 1.8 million hectares of growing land for some key agricultural crops – including tomatoes, mangoes and avocados – with an annual production of 17.6 million metric tons (MT). The total value of the affected produce is estimated to be around 86 billion pesos (US$6.4 billion).

SAGARPA said the fruit fly’s eradication was a result of phytosanitary measures that had been in place for 35 years.

Fruit flies are a menacing pest across the world, causing damage to fruits and other agricultural crops with large financial consequences for international trade when export bans are imposed. For example, Pakistani mango imports were at risk of being banned by the EU earlier this year due to fruit fly infestations (, and in May this year the EU controversially banned all imports of Indian mangoes due to the discovery of tropical pests in the imported produce (

Do you have a problem with fruit flies in your crop? Find out how to manage fruit flies at a local level by reading pest management factsheets on the Plantwise knowledge bank:”fruit fly”.

Find out more about the distribution of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata, by clicking on the image below. Distribution records in CABI’s products (Plantwise knowledge bank and CPC) will be updated shortly.

Ceratitis capitata global distribution
Global distribution of Ceratitis capitata, compiled by the Plantwise knowledge bank based on published reports in the scientific literature. ©CABI 2014.

Rotterdam Convention members agree prior consent required for azinphos-methyl trade

Azinphos-methyl among the instecticides tightly regulated by the Rotterdam Convention (Image: WSU Extension)

Contributed by Melanie Bateman, CABI Switzerland

It is estimated that 2 million chemical preparations  are for sale around the world[1]. Many of these chemicals have hazards associated with them. An estimated 200,000 people die each year of pesticide poisoning[2]. And yet, it is very difficult for any one country acting on its own to track all of these chemicals and to assess all safety concerns. The Rotterdam Convention supports information exchange on hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals.

At its sixth meeting earlier this month, members of the Convention[3] agreed to add azinphos-methyl to the list of chemicals requiring “prior informed consent” (Annex III of the Convention). Azinphos-methyl is an insecticide used to control mites and moths by interfering with the nervous system. Canada was one of the countries that provided information to support its inclusion in Annex III because the Canadian authorities have found that “the use of azinphos-methyl and associated end-use products entails an unacceptable risk of harm to the agricultural worker”[4]. Continue reading

Organized and motivated, African plant health leaders take issue in Rome


Participation in the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) is much more than just turning up. It needs a good understanding of the technical issues involved, and of the way in which decisions are reached. To be heard, interventions from the floor must be made in the right way at the right time. So to build the consensus on which CPM depends, delegates from the same region with common interests often support each other in plenary. But to be effective, this approach needs planning.

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Plantwise shares impacts of local agricultural advice and partnership building with plant health leaders in Rome


For 350 international delegates and observers attending this week’s annual meeting of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM), standards will be adopted on plant protection with far-reaching implications on livelihoods, food security and ecosystems back at home. Plantwise, a development cooperation programme led by CABI which works to improve livelihoods in 31 countries, convened representatives of national governments and international organisations on Thursday to address the impact of improved pest advice, and pest tracking, for the small-holder farmer. At the CPM side session representatives of the World Trade Organization, the International Seed Federation and Contracting Parties of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) discussed how Plantwise can support the National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPO) and contribute to the mission of the IPPC.

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