Technical Panel on Diagnostic Protocols advances its work on plant pest diagnosis

Posted on Tue, 15 Nov 2022, 13:37

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Paris, 04 November 2022. The IPPC Technical Panel on Diagnostic Protocols (TPDP) concluded its face-to-face meeting from 31 October to 04 November 2022, hosted at the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) after three years without in-person work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenge of developing international standards for the proper identification of regulated pests in virtual modality, the TPDP has advanced its work in in the past years which culminated recently with the revision of seven draft diagnostic protocols (DPs). The meeting was also the first in-person meeting for three new panel members.

It is known that early detection and accurate diagnosis can minimize the risk and impact of a pest outbreak. The IPPC’s TPDP is a group of international experts, nominated by the Standards Committee (SC) to develop international diagnostic protocols to support the detection and identification procedures worldwide. This harmonization contributes to greater transparency in the diagnostics for regulated pests and assists in the resolution of disputes between trading partners. As outlined by the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) Recommendation 7, accurate and rapid pest diagnosis underpins phytosanitary certification, import inspections and the application of appropriate phytosanitary measures.

Besides the in-depth revision of seven draft diagnostic protocols, the TPDP also discussed its work programme, currently with 27 topics under various stages of development, to be adopted as annexes to ISPM 27 Diagnostic protocols for regulated pests). The TPDP also discussed quality assurance issues, updates were made to be presented to the Standards Committee, and further guidance to authors of the DP drafting groups. The TPDP also discussed ways to improve its work, highlighting that countries still have a high demand and needs for the development of international diagnostic protocols, as shown in the last IPPC call for topics and the IPPC Observatory survey on the use of DPs (study to be soon published).

“It was a fruitful meeting which allowed the panel to revise seven DPs, half of them on insects. Improvements of instructions to authors and internal documents (such as checklists) were also identified. Improvements of communication for the expert consultation periods is suggested to collect more scientific advice and to improve the diagnostic protocols at earlier stages,” said Geraldine Anthoine, TPDP member for nematology and Chairperson of the meeting.

Regarding the TPDP work plan, it is expected that two draft DPs will be presented within the DP notification period for adoption in July 2023. Four draft DPs will be presented within the consultation period in July 2023 and five draft DPs will be presented for expert consultation in the first and second quarter of 2023. With the foreseen increase in the volume of work, the TPDP expressed the need to highlight once again to the Standards Committee and IPPC community that two consultation periods may be needed for 2024, with one in January particularly for draft DPs.

“These DPs are key for international trade,” said Anthoine. Consequently, their drafting and revision by scientific teams are essential in following the evolution of knowledge on pests and to offer the best guidance for laboratories. This continuous process of drafting and revision of DPs on selected topics supports the production of high-level standards by IPPC. Thus, with the current intensive activity of the TPDP, it is suggested to organize two periods of country consultation in one year to allow a reasonable number of standards to be examined”, she added. The next face-to-face meeting of the TPDP is tentatively planned for September 2023.

The report of the October-November 2022 meeting will soon be available at https://www.ippc.int/en/core-activities/standards-setting/expert-drafting-groups/technical-panels/technical-panel-diagnostic-protocols/. The agenda is provided here.

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