38 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM So what benefits are expected from this standard? As soon as it can be worked into national legislation, governments and the world will see increased harmonization and transparency in phytosanitary import requirements. This shared international understanding will facilitate the movement of healthy seeds. The new standard clearly states that measures should be applied only when there is a concrete risk that seeds are a risk in themselves or a pathway for pest introduction. In other words, countries should not regulate when no risk is identified. This may seem obvious, but in reality some countries may have set require- ments that were not scientifically justified, hereby creating trade barriers or creating immense difficulties for exporting countries. The standard also categorizes pests that affect seeds as either “seed-borne” or “seed-transmitted” where “seed-borne pests” is a broader category (pests that may or may not be seed-transmit- ted) and “seed-transmitted” is a narrower category (pests that will be transmitted to resultant plants and affect the crop). This distinction was the most controversial and complicated issue for IPPC contracting parties to agree on. But it was important to be able to distinguish these two categories for countries to apply only the necessary measures and not put unnecessary burdens on exporting countries. The standard reconfirms that countries need to carry out pest risk analysis to underpin their regulatory decisions and that this analysis should, for instance, consider whether the transmission of pests has been observed or confirmed to occur under natural conditions or under exper- imental conditions. Another important point that the standard makes is that the intended use of the seeds will influence the risk. If the seeds will be used for research and not planted, there is minimal risk that pests will be introduced to a new environment. Instead, if the seeds are intended for planting the risk is higher, and like- wise the measure should be. Putting such guidance down on paper for all countries to implement will hopefully mean that the international movement of seeds should become much more transparent and predictable. “The European Seed Association welcomes the adoption of the international standard as this will help harmonizing pest risk IPPC standards - https://www.ippc.int/en/ core-activities/standards-setting/ management among the 183 IPPC contracting parties and there- fore facilitate the international movement of healthy high qual- ity seeds for our European seed industry,” says ESA Technical Manager Plant Health and Seed Trade, Christophe Rouillard. However, as Ransom noted, “the remaining challenge, and arguably opportunity, for the IPPC stakeholders, is to apply this platform of common understanding to develop an internationally accepted practical system for growing and distributing seed of a known health status. While this would not remove the need for a risk assessment, it would facilitate the cross-border movement of clean seed by providing evidence of its status as a result of the pest control measures applied during its production. It could only be achieved through global partnerships between seed pro- ducers and phytosanitary regulators, and I hope that both are up for the challenge!” Radha Ranganathan from International Seed Federation (ISF), confirmed the industry’s intentions to move the harmonization agenda along. “The framework that the standard provides for national phytosanitary regulations will facilitate the international movement of seed that is valued today at around $11 - 12 USD billion per year. Although adoption of the standard is a key first step, a lot depends on how it is imple- mented in countries and the ISF is ready to cooperate with the IPPC Secretariat in the implementation phase”, she said. “Growing healthy crops, ensuring crop diversity and increasing sustainable food supplies all start with healthy seeds,” concluded Wang. Editor’s Note: Brent G. Larson is Standards Officer at the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations A seed-borne pest is a pest that is carried by seeds externally or internally that may or may not be transmitted to plants growing from these seeds and cause their infestation. A seed-transmitted pest is a seed-borne pest that is transmitted via seeds directly to plants growing from these seeds and causes their infestation.