Plant diseases and pests can be spread through international trade in plants and plant products to places they did not previously occur and cause major damage to agricultural or forestry crops and in the natural environment. A well-known example is the destruction of a large part of the European vineyards in the 19th century due to the introduction of the grape phylloxera from North America. A recent example is the olive tree mortality in southern Italy by contamination with the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa.
International Plant Protection Convention
The countries that joined the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation) signed a plant protection convention (International Plant Protection Convention, IPPC) in 1951 in order to create an international framework in which countries can take measures to protect plant health. More information is available on the IPPC website.
An EU country may request special protection for all or part of its territory from harmful organisms (listed in Directive 2000/29/EC) when:
- the harmful organism, which is established in one or more other parts of the Union, is not present in that area despite the environmental conditions in the protected zone being favorable for its establishment;
- there is a danger that certain harmful organism will establish in that area, given propitious ecological conditions, for particular crops, despite the fact that the organism is not endemic or established in the Union.
Belgium has no zones recognized as protected zones.
For further information: European Commission website
Eu-regulated harmful organisms for plant are listed in annex I (totally banned) and annex II (banned on specific commodities) of Directive 2000/29/EC.
All EU countries are required to notify the European Commission and other EU countries of the presence of harmful organisms on their territory, and the measures taken to eradicate or control the spread. The outbreaks are published in annual reports.
Also interceptions of harmful organisms in imported plant and plant products are reported. This interceptions are monthly published on the European Commission website.