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International plant health organisations

European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO)

EPPO is an intergovernmental organization responsible for cooperation and harmonization in plant protection within the European and Mediterranean region. The organization is mainly financed by contributions paid by its member governments. EPPO has grown from its 15 original members in 1951 to today's 52 member countries, including nearly every country in the European and Mediterranean region, as well as Asian countries which were previously part of the USSR.

Objectives of the organization can be summarized as follows:

  • To protect plant health in agriculture, forestry and the uncultivated environment

  • To develop an international strategy against the introduction and spread of pests (including invasive alien plants) that damage cultivated and wild plants, in agricultural and natural ecosystems and protecting biodiversity

  • To encourage harmonization of phytosanitary regulations and all other areas of official plant protection action

  • To promote the use of modern, safe, and effective pest control methods

  • To provide a documentation and information service on plant protection

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) - Plant Health networks

EFSA is a European agency funded by the European Union that operates independently of the European legislative and executive institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament) and EU Member States. It was set up in 2002 following a series of food crises in the late 1990s to be a source of scientific advice and communication on risks associated with the food chain. Using a wide-range of specialist expertise and the most current scientific knowledge available EFSA's key activities in the plant health area include:

  • Provision of scientific advice to the European Commission, including reviewing High Risk Plant dossiers

  • To conduct pest risk assessments in Plant Health

International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)

The IPPC is a 1951 multilateral treaty deposited with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that aims to secure coordinated, effective action to prevent and to control the introduction and spread of pests of plants and plant products. An intergovernmental treaty signed by over 180 countries, its key aims are:

  • Protecting the world's plant resources from the spread and introduction of pests

  • Promoting safe trade

The Convention introduced International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) as its main tool to achieve its goals, making it the sole global standard setting organization for plant health. The IPPC is one of the "Three Sisters" recognized by the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreement, along with the Codex Alimentarius Commission for food safety standards and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) for animal health standards.

International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV)

The UK is a signatory to the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, and maintains its legislation on PBR in compliance with that Convention. The UK is represented at the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) council, legal, administrative and technical meetings. As a signatory to the Convention, the UK shares the UPOV mission to 'provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society'.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The UK is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) schemes for both the Varietal Certification or the Control of Seed Moving in International Trade and for the Certification of Forest Reproductive Material. The OECD Seed Scheme, established in 1958, promotes the use of certified agriculture seed that is of consistently high quality. Seeds are produced – and officially controlled – according to Plant Varieties and Seeds Provisional Common Framework a set of harmonised procedures. As a member, the UK is obliged to strictly observe the OECD Basic Principles, Method of Operation, and Rules and Regulations of the Schemes, designate a National Designated Authority for the UK and to maintain a List of Varieties. Defra is the National Designated Authority for the UK.  The United Kingdom was admitted to the OECD Scheme for the Certification of Forest Reproductive Material Moving in International Trade in 2019.

International Seed Testing Association (ISTA)

The UK is a member of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), an organisation founded in 1924 that develops and publishes standard procedures in the field of seed testing. ISTA.  Representatives from SASA and NIAB (an independent plant science organisation working under a contract with Defra) attend ISTA meetings on behalf of the UK. SASA and NIAB have ISTA accredited laboratories, AFBI has an ISTA member laboratory.