The work in 2011/2012 on phytosanitary measures had several significant positive outcomes. Most importantly, we provided contributions to the work of IFQRG which is a key forum for critical discussions on proposed new regulations and phytosanitary treatments options. IFQRG also advises international bodies that are directly involved in phytosanitary policy/standards making.
Because of the location of this year’s IFQRG meeting (Canberra) there was a significant presence from Australia/New Zealand regulators at the IFQRG meeting. They often push for the most stringent and trade-damaging phytosanitary regulations that are often followed by other countries in the region. At the meeting they realized the value, the merit, and transparency of the IFQRG activities and are likely to trust the IFQRG process, and to participate in and follow its recommendations in the future.
IFQRG made a significant step in simplifying the requirements for new treatment efficacy data after being asked specifically by the Standards Committee (SC). It has never happened before that the SC has given such credibility to IFQRG to influence policy making. A small group including Adnan Uzunovic recommended and drafted a simplified three-step process with only seven test pests (instead of an unspecified and endless list of pests and life stages of pests) to be tested in the first step followed by testing the most tolerant pest in step 2 and 3. We also provided arguments why we need to get away from Probit 9 requirements that were stalling new treatment development. A large majority of IFQRG members were very supportive of this approach and it is hoped that the Standards Committee (SC) and Commission on Phytosanitary Measures will use our suggestions to adjust the current text in the standard.
In April 2011 the SC approved the draft of a rapid dielectric heat treatment method (that included FPInnovations efficacy data against PWN) as a potential new treatment for wood packaging and sent it for member country consultation. Several members supported this treatment being adopted as soon as possible while some members requested more operational guidance for commercial facilities. Adnan took an active role in discussing these issues to support the MW/RF technology adoption and will be included in teams that will develop guidance documents and generate additional information if needed. This may bring additional opportunities to continue filling gaps on dielectric heating and through additional funding and collaboration.
The opportunity arose to share our expertise on bluestain with Australian regulators, encouraging them to re-assess their attitude towards bluestain fungi as quarantine organisms and argued against incinerating or returning lumber shipments lumber with live bluestain. Adnan suggested that current data do not support the attitude of labeling bluestain fungi as quarantine organism and shared information we know about bluestain fungi in the context of pathogenicity to trees. In similar way we headed off publication of a paper that would have equated live bluestain with pathogenic fungi and hopefully continue to maintain a $173.5 million market for green lumber exports to Japan.
On the potential increase of required heat treatment from 56/30 to 60/60 or 71/70, IFQRG further discussed this issues and maintained its stand that heat treatments as described under ISPM-15 (bark removed, 56/30 heated to the core) continue to be appropriate to sufficiently reduce the risk of Emerald Ash Borer and other pests.
Adnan gave four presentations at IFQRG, establishing an image of FPInnovations as a capable, independent, and unbiased research provider that can, in parallel, work with fumigants, dielectric heating, molecular genomics, develop and carry out standardized test protocols, and provide advice and research data to its government and policy makers. Our participation was commended by IFQRG chairman as an important asset to the group, sharing a rare mix of: good science background, careful hard work, and being knowledgeable and also very aware of practical considerations and potential repercussions for the industry and trade.
Together with Pennsylvania State University and USDA colleagues we visited BOC International Ltd. (the official name of the multinational industrial gas company that is now a part of The Linde Group) and discussed potential work with ethane dinitrile (EDN), which currently is the most promising alternative gas to methyl bromide for quarantine treatments, but lacks efficacy data in North America. There was a great chance of receiving additional funding from BOC or USDA in 2012 to carry some of that work at FPInnovations. CFIA and Canada Wood are also aware that FPInnovations is best positioned to do this required work and would additionally support us. However in January 2012, we were told that BOC had decided not to provide EDN gas to any outside research organization at this stage.