Improving the understanding of a pest free area: experts revising ISPM 4 on Requirements for the establishment of pest free areas

Posted on Tue, 15 Dec 2020, 11:47

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© Pia Scanlon

7 December 2020, Rome – In another first for the IPPC Secretariat in 2020, the Expert Working Group (EWG) on the Revision of the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) 4 (Requirements for the establishment of pest free areas) began their virtual meeting from 7 to 11 December 2020 to revise the standard based on the approved Specification 58.

Preventing and controlling the introduction and spread of plant pests in a coordinated and effective manner, thus protecting cultivated and wild plants and plant products are at the core of the mandate of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).

IPPC standards provide a basis for the application and harmonization of acceptable and technically-justified measures in international trade. A pest free area is recognized as a phytosanitary measure that facilitates safe trade and safeguards the plant-base resources of a country. It can also be established and maintained to protect an area for ecological or conservation purposes.

Pest free areas and related measures are mainly trade driven, directed to a specific commodity or range of commodities and to specific markets. They target a specific pest or suite of pests that are regulated on the plants or plant products intended for export.

Since the adoption of ISPM 4 (Requirements for the establishment of pest free areas) almost two decades ago, a series of reasons triggered the need to revise the standard, and include the ISPM 4 revision in the Standards Committee work programme. First of all, new information has become available; secondly, the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures has subsequently adopted new standards dealing with various aspects of pest free areas, such as ISPM 26 (Establishment of pest free areas for fruit flies (Tephritidae)) and ISPM 29 (Recognition of pest free areas and areas of low pest prevalence); finally, the IPPC Secretariat has recently published a comprehensive guide on Establishing and Maintaining Pest Free Areas.

While considering the experiences of the IPPC contracting parties and reviewing the suite of adopted standards, a group of nine global experts met virtually over five days to review and revise ISPM 4 in depth. The aim of the group is to update this standard to ensure it has consistent guidance on the establishment and maintenance of pest free areas for all IPPC contracting parties.

The EWG will continue working in January 2021 to finalize the revised draft with the aim to present it to the Standards Committee meeting in May 2021, which would consider its approval for first consultation from 1 July to 31 September 2021.

The meeting report of the EWG will be posted after its January session at the following link:

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