Supply Networks Must Reduce The Threat Of Invasive Species

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  • Climate change and international trade are combining to put the very existence of life on Earth at risk.
  • International trade is identified as one of the key factors in the spread of invasive species and organisms. 
  • The Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) is effectively the governing body of the IPPC and is a panel of experts that meets annually to coordinate the global protection of plants.

International trade and climate change are working together to endanger life as we know it on Earth as reported by The Loadstar.

Crazy unfounded risk

That is not a crazy unfounded risk assessment by a dogmatic green activist, but the considered opinion of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

And the UN says that changes that will protect food and agriculture supplies must come soon.

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is an intergovernmental treaty signed by more than 180 countries, and its secretary, Osama El- Lissy, along with Nicola Spence, the UK’s chief plant health officer, released a paper on 21 September warning that some 40% of crops, around $220bn worth, is lost to plant pests every year.

“Climate change has increased pest incursions, particularly in new places where they had not been detected previously but have now thrived.

Changing temperatures, humidity, light and wind are the second most important factors for pests to disperse, next to international travel and trade,” wrote Ms Spence and Mr El Lissy.

A primary tool 

The convention introduced International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) as its primary tool to achieve its goals to reduce the spread of pests and diseases, making it the sole global standard setting organisation for plant health.

Plants provide 80% of our food and 98% of the air we breathe, are critical to life on Earth and must be protected at all costs.

ISPM’s have the aim of protecting global plant resources from the spread and introduction of pests while also promoting safe trade.

With international trade identified as one of the key factors in the spread of invasive species, organisms that, when taken from their natural habitat and moved to an area where they have few or no natural predators, can wreak havoc on local flora and agriculture.

In addition, this year the IPPC held a conference in late September, preceded by the Sea Containers Workshop, which included experts from the IPPC and the transport and logistics industry working to mitigate the risks posed by the spread of invasive species.

Level of risk 

Focusing on global supply chains, Peregrine Storrs-Fox, risk management director at TT Club, believes: “The question is around containerisation, what is the level of the risk played out in containers and that’s difficult to identify?

Containers aren’t the only pathway for invasive pests.”

“The two sides weren’t miles apart,” he said.

“Customs and excise don’t want voids where things can be hidden,” explained Mr Steele, and things can hide, such as smaller organisms, spiders, moths and their larvae.

But he conceded that slots for forklift blades and the corner blocks where twist locks and crane spreaders hold and lift boxes remain crucial to the design.

Spreading awareness

Though both Mr Steele and Mr Storrs-Fox concede that while it is not possible to completely eliminate all movement of invasive species, there are simple actions that can be taken to reduce their spread.

“All-steel floors in containers does not add significant cost to its price,” said Mr Steele.

However, if a container is loaded at night under lights, these attract pests and can lead to unwanted organisms entering the box.

Nevertheless, the chief method for containing the spread of unwanted pests in and on containers is to “continue to raise awareness throughout the supply chain, because there are people that are not aware of these problems”, explained Mr Steel.

Asked if fumigants were a part of the answer – a method recently favoured by Chinese authorities to control the spread of Covid in particular – Mr Storrs-Fox and Mr El Lissy’s views were closely aligned.

“We need to have someone looking over all of this [the supply chain and the various interests],” explained Mr Storrs-Fox, “there’s a silo looking at plant protection and their interests, then you need to look at the movements of animal products, wider biosecurity and also to look at safety issues,” he added.

Effective ways 

“The role of governments and the private sector is fundamental,” to the creation of secure supply chains, explained Mr El Lissy.

It starts with ensuring containers are cleaned before they are delivered to shippers for packing; they need to sweep and washed, then when a container has been loaded and the doors closed, a quick inspection of the outside would make sure there are no organisms attached to the box.

“If we do that consistently you manage that pathway in a very effective way, regardless of the point of origin, as well as substantially reducing the overall costs of mitigating the spread of invasive species.”

Moreover, the IPPC expects government bodies in countries of origin and ports of arrival to inspect agricultural products so that responsibility will not fall onto individual farmers or private companies.

Industry and government representatives, in the form of a focus group, have now been tasked by the CPM to find a formal solution to the problem of invasive species within global supply chains, and the group will make its first report to the wider IPPC next spring when the next annual meeting is due to take place in Rome.

A workable solution

However, Mr El Lissy is convinced there is a workable solution through the development of a safeguarding continuum.

It was discovered that the dunnage, the wooden pallets on which the tiles were shipped, were infested.

The title company then discussed the issue with its supplier, and a solution was found.

And it’s a solution, he emphasised, that must “come sooner rather than later, but everyone understands the urgency”.

He added: “There is no doubt that the very existence of life on Earth is at stake from our actions, and to safeguard life we must act in unison.”

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Source: The Loadstar

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