Impact News

Written by: Ilham Setiawan Noer, Krisan Valerie Sangari (EAFOR Intern)
Edited by: Chelsea Patricia

Plants have an essential role for all living things and the planet. These roles include 1) as the primary source of food for living creatures, 2) absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere, 3) around 80% of all orthodox medicine comes from plants, 4) providing habitat for various living creatures, 5) cool the local climate, 6) absorb various types of gas pollutants, 7) maintain the health of watersheds, 8) act as primary producers and play a significant role in the ecological system, and 9) control floods, droughts and erosion (Usman et al., 2014). However, globalisation threatens plants’ vital role, even though it fosters and expedites international trade. International trade practices have created potentially significant biosecurity risks by providing routes for transmitting pests and diseases. This article delves into important aspects of plant health, exploring its various dimensions, challenges, and innovative solutions promoting its conservation.

Large-scale trade in crop commodities has introduced and spread pests and diseases worldwide, which are increasingly exacerbated by climate change and management practices (Freer & Webber, 2017). For example, approximately 90% of exotic invertebrate introductions into the United Kingdom during 1970-2004 were associated with the live plant trade (Smith et al., 2007). The spread of these invasive plant pest species has caused economic and environmental losses. Globally, it costs the economy at least USD423 billion yearly in damage caused by invasive species (World Economic Forum, 2023). In addition, pest attacks disrupt local ecosystems, leading to environmental losses, crop failure, forest damage, and the high costs of pest management programs.

The one biosecurity concept is an interdisciplinary approach to biosecurity policy and research built on the link between human, animal, plant, and environmental health to effectively prevent and mitigate invasive alien species’ impact (Hulme, 2020). This provides an integrated perspective for addressing many biosecurity risks that transcend the traditional boundaries of health, agriculture, and the environment. This concept has encouraged the introduction of international standards for plant health, such as the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs). The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) developed this set of guidelines affiliated with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (FAO, 2024a). The main components of ISPMs include pest risk analysis, monitoring and reporting, export and import regulations, and certification systems. Specifically, the primary urgency of this compliance is to prevent the spread of pests and diseases across international borders, facilitate international phytosanitary standards, maintain biodiversity balance, mitigate potential economic threats, protect agricultural stability, support public health, build international trust, and encourage technological progress in the context of plant health.

Regarding innovative digital platforms in international plant trade, the IPCC launched a global program in 2019 called the IPCC ePhyto Solution to accommodate the exchange of e-certificates. Through a centralised system, exchanges occur without the need for bilateral agreements. In an ex-post evaluation in 2023, the ePhyto program benefits more than 130 countries by providing safe plant products in international trade (FAO, 2024b). Specifically, the program has simplified the certification process, reduced fraud, and cut operational costs. Additionally, critical recommendations for the program include adopting a financial plan for long-term sustainability and improving the Generic ePhyto National System (GeNS) for more efficient e-certification.

The implementation of the One Biosecurity concept faces several challenges. Assessing these five key challenges highlights the need for coordinated action to effectively implement this approach (Hulme, 2020): urbanisation, human mobility, capacity deficits, agricultural intensification, and management constraints. In the context of urbanisation, the massive growth of urban areas causes encroachment on natural habitats, disrupts ecosystems and worsens biodiversity. Human mobility encourages human movement that can bring pathogens and pests to new environments, posing a significant threat to agriculture and ecosystems. Additionally, capacity deficits in the form of limited funding, inadequate training, and weak regulatory frameworks can hinder efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to biological hazards. Intensive agricultural practices like monoculture cultivation and livestock production create ideal conditions for pests and diseases. At the same time, management constraints like inadequate governance, fragmented policies, and institutional isolation hinder coordinated biosecurity efforts.

Given the complex nature of one biosecurity, as outlined in the previous section, its establishment requires linkages between the fields of health, agriculture, and the environment, spanning global, national, and local contexts. It includes an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the natural and social sciences (Hulme, 2020). This perspective underscores the need for collaboration among diverse experts, including taxonomists, population biologists, modellers, economists, chemists, engineers and social scientists, who must navigate political, legislative and societal dimensions to address the one biosecurity challenge effectively. In addition, addressing biosecurity risks with multi-sectoral unity requires a systematic framework involving multiple stakeholders. This framework seeks to underscore the procedural implementation of biosecurity codes, particularly to address the dual use of biological resources and ensure regulatory compliance. To further strengthen the implementation of One Biosecurity, researchers propose establishing a unified national authority to integrate various biosecurity aspects (Beale et al., 2008). Meanwhile, others have emphasised the weight of risk communication (Wu et al., 2017), improved capacity development of authorities, consistent monitoring, awareness campaigns, and incentivisation to encourage more compliance and best practices of one biosecurity (Bayer et al., 2023)

 

Reference

Bayer, M., Gudrun, S., Syring, C., Ruiters, M., Becker, J., & Steiner, W. (2023). Implementation of biosecurity measures by hoof trimmers in Switzerland. Schweizer Archiv für Tierheilkunde, 165(5), 307-320.

Beale, R., Fairbrother, J., Inglis, A., & Trebeck, D. (2008). One biosecurity: A working partnership.

Freer-Smith, P., Webber, J. (2017). Tree pests and diseases: The threat to biodiversity and delivery of ecosystem services. Biodiversity and Conservation. 26:3167–3181.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2024a). Adopted standards (ISPMs). Available on: https://www.ippc.int/en/core-activities/standards-setting/ispms/ 

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2024b). Independent evaluation of IPPC ePhyto solution shows successful findings and key recommendations. Available on: https://www.ippc.int/en/news/independent-evaluation-of-ippc-ephyto-solution-shows-successful-findings-and-key-recommendations/

Hulme, P.E. (2020). One Biosecurity: a unified concept to integrate human, animal, plant, and environmental health. Emerging Topics in Life Sciences, 4(5), 539-549.

Smith, R.M., Baker, R.H.A., Malumphy, C.P., Hockland, S., Hammon, R.P., Ostojá-Starzewski, J.C., Collins, D.W. (2007). Recent nonnative invertebrate plant pest establishments in Great Britain: origins, pathways, and trends. Agriculture and Forest Entomology. 9: 307–326.

Usman, A.B., Abubakar, S., Alaku, C., Nnadi, O. (2014). Plant: a necessity of life. International Letters of Natural Sciences. 20: 151-159.

World Economic Forum. (2023). Invasive species cost the global economy $423 billion per year. Available on: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/09/invasive-species-cost-global-economy-billions/ 

Wu, Q., Lee, L., Schulz., Glynn, T., Tonsor. (2017). Using Expert Knowledge to Understand Biosecurity Adoption Aimed at Reducing Tier 1 Disease Risks in the U.S. Livestock Industry. The Journal of Agricultural Science, 10(1):12-26. doi: 10.5539/JAS.V10N1P12

The post International Day of Plant Health 2024: Plant Health, Safe Trade and Digital Technology appeared first on Resilience Development Initiative.

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