Plants provide 80% of the food we consume and 98% of our oxygen. However, the rise in global e-commerce, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, has unwittingly increased the risk of spreading pests and diseases harmful to a country’s flora. A case in New Zealand* involving a 12-year-old girl who unknowingly ordered potentially harmful insect eggs online from Portugal exemplifies the risks of unregulated online trade in natural products.
The girl’s mother, Emily**, promptly alerted New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). MPI identified the eggs as belonging to an Indian stick insect species, non-native and potentially detrimental to local biodiversity.
The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), hosted by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, is crucial in mitigating such risks. It establishes international standards and aids countries in implementing them, assisting in crafting national phytosanitary legislation and import requirements.
Pests can cross borders through various channels and may inhabit a range of products, including plants, soil, and untreated wood packaging materials. Without phytosanitary certificates certifying pest-free goods, there’s a significant risk of pests infiltrating new regions, leading to substantial agricultural losses.
Invasive pests, driven by international travel, trade, and climate change, threaten biodiversity and our planet’s delicate web of life. In response, the use of pesticides could increase, impacting pollinators, natural pest predators, and other crucial organisms. Protecting plant health is essential, promoting environmentally friendly practices, such as integrated pest management, and implementing international standards for phytosanitary measures.
Raising awareness of phytosanitary risks is vital to prevent pests from crossing borders and establishing in new areas. The IPPC collaborates with national plant protection organizations to implement protective standards. On the International Day of Plant Health 2023, everyone is urged to raise awareness and act to protect our plants, environment, and biodiversity.
*Original article: Think before you Click
**Name changed for privacy.