Member State representatives on plant health meet in Parma
Member State representatives on plant health, members of the European Commission and observers from Norway, Turkey, Croatia and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, met on 20 and 21 October for a second special Advisory Forum meeting on plant health, focusing on data collection and emerging risks in plant health.
Availability of quality data had been identified at the first meeting (October 2008) as a major challenge to pest risk assessment and participants welcomed an update on EFSA’s cooperation with scientific networks in Europe in this area. For example, EFSA reported on several Article 36 calls and a cooperation project with the Joint Research Centre of the EU Commission which have been launched to ensure availability of data for ongoing work and in preparation for any emergency situation when fast-track advice is needed. The presentations covered ongoing projects such as PRASSIS (the inventory of data sources for pest risk assessment), Mopest (the knowledge database of models for pest epidemiology) and ClimPest (the framework for modelling pest climatic suitability). The reports on these projects will soon be published on EFSA’s website.
The meeting gave EFSA’s Plant Health Panel an opportunity to present a review of its activities and discuss its developing role in the European plant health system, including harmonisation of pest risk assessment methodologies. EFSA’s Director for Risk Assessment Riitta Maijala said at the end of meeting: “We had a very useful exchange. Although we do not have answers to all questions raised at this forum, we all agree that it is very important that we work closely together to find solutions.”
A large part of the meeting addressed emerging risks in plant health. Risk indicators, pest surveillance and models for estimating the probability of the establishment and spread of new pests in Europe dominated the discussion.
EFSA’s Plant Health Panel provides scientific opinions on plant health matters on requests from the European Commission, European Parliament, EU Member States and also on its own initiative. The requests for scientific advice are always accompanied by terms of reference that describe the background of the request and the relevant community interest at stake. EFSA’s evaluation/pest risk assessment often includes evaluation of pest risk management options.