“The Main Pillars of EU Plant Health Law” | Latest Policy Blog from VIRTIGATION

In the fifth and final edition of its “Plant health policy at a glance” series, the VIRTIGATION project blog  – led by the RTDS team – shines a light on the main pillars of EU plant health law, and how they help combat ToBRFV and ToLCNDV in tomatoes and cucurbits.

Read the full article on plant health policy
via the VIRTIGATION blog here.

A tractor is pictured spraying pesticides on a field for the benefit of plant health
The aim of EU laws on pesticides is to reduce the application of chemical pesticides (© 2022 Shutterstock)

In summary, the EU’s “plant health law” was put in force to fulfil four crucial purposes:

  1. Better protection of EU agriculture, horticulture and environment using more effective measures.
  2. Pro-active approach against new pest (surveillance, eradication measures, financing, contingency plans, simulation exercises).
  3. Ensuring safe trade of plants and plant products (new import and internal movement rules).
  4. Compliance with international plant health standards (ISPMs: International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures under the International Plant Protection Convention, the IPPC).

While not directly part of EU plant health law, EU legislation on pesticides also have a crucial role to play in ensuring health of plants and their environment. Since 2009, an important cornerstone of EU legislation on pesticide use has been Directive 2009/128/EC on the sustainable use of pesticides in the EU. This directive, which EU countries transposed into their national laws, established a framework for EU action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides. It did so setting minimum rules to reduce the risks to human health and the environment that are associated with (chemical) pesticide use. It also promoted the use of integrated pest management (IPM) as crucial alternative to chemical pesticides. Furthermore, it further sought to enhance the high level of protection achieved through the entire regulatory system for pesticides.

VIRTIGATION‘s objectives also cover the main pillars of EU plant health law, in addition to the legislation on pesticide use. As VIRTIGATION works on both ToBRFV and ToLCNDV, the project seeks to provide its insights on both plant pests regularly to EU institutions (e.g. EFSA), NPPOs and the EPPO. This should help improve the application of e.g. the ToBRFV implementing regulation, the EU plant health law itself as well as its delegated/implementing acts. In terms of the EU legislation on pesticides, VIRTIGATION will seek to provide insights on improved, innovative IPM measures, e.g. to tackle the whitefly vector of ToLCNDV, but also enhance ToBRFV eradication measures and quarantine protocols. Finally, the project is fully aligned with the pesticide reduction targets of the proposed pesticide regulation of the EU Commission, as VIRTIGATION also seeks to cut the use of (chemical) pesticides by at least half by the end of its lifetime.

The EU-funded VIRTIGATION project is on a mission to combat  viral crop destruction and safeguard tomatoes and cucurbits specifically against viral diseases that wreak havoc on crops worldwide, destroying billions in Europe alone every harvest. 

You can visit the VIRTIGATION blog here to read the full article and find out more about this project and its scope.

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