PLANT HEALTH IN THE EUROPEAN UNION: EMERGING RISKS CHALLENGES AND FUTURE PERSPECTIVES
M.J. Jeger, G. Stancanelli, E. Ceglarska
The Plant Health Panel (PLH) of EFSA is the reference body for risk assessment in the plant health area for the European Union. Since its establishment in 2006, there has been an increasing trend towards producing scientific opinions which are full pest risk assessments for the whole EU territory: recent examples include Monilinia fructicola and solanaceous pospiviroids. A feature of these assessments is that the pathogens are known to be present in the EU territories. Quantitative approaches to risk assessment have become increasingly important during this time. Models using climatic variables are useful to assess the probability of establishment and spread of plant pathogens. Their out- puts can be displayed in maps showing different levels of risk of pest establishment and spread as, for example, in the case of the fungus Guignardia citricarpa. Quantitative pathway models constitute another type of mathematical models used by the PLH Panel. The start of the pathway is an infested area with known prevalence and number of host plants. The end of the pathway is a target area, e.g. an area cultivated with a given host plant in the EU. As an exam- ple, the PLH Panel has evaluated a quantitative pathway analysis of the likelihood of Tilletia indica being introduced into the EU with imports of United States wheat. When experimental data are available, statistical models are used by the PLH Panel to assess the effectiveness of risk reduction options, e.g. to verify the mortality of the pinewood nema- tode (Bursephalenchus xylophilus) from high temperature treatment of wood shavings. In 2011, EFSA organised a sci- entific colloquium, bringing together risk assessors, risk managers, scientists and stakeholders from 31 countries to debate on the identification of emerging risks in plant health. Key issues identified were the need for an enhanced co- operation, updating of databases and tools, and the potential benefit of analysing past invasions to prioritise strategy for detection and prevention of emerging risks.