A network that helps people worldwide obtain rapid advice and information on crop protection, including the identification and management of plant pests.
PestNet is a network that helps people worldwide obtain rapid advice and information on crop protection, including the identification and management of plant pests. It started in 1999. Anyone with an interest in plant protection is welcome to join. PestNet is free and is moderated, ensuring that messages are confined to plant protection.
Pests > Pest Management > Quarantine > Import risk assessments > IRAs, failure to share data, Galapagos
March 2004. Galapagos is in the process of identifying which of the 400+ introduced insects in the Galapagos Islands are current or potential threats to its biodiversity. To do so, information is being collected on the history of these species and whether they are known as agricultural pests or invasives (i.e., do they affect native species and natural ecosystems) elsewhere in the world. The CABI Crop Compendium, the GISP database, Ecoport and many other publications and web sites have been checked. So far, we have found that the information available is scattered and most of it is orientated to crop protection. It is particularly difficult to access information on non-crop pests and their effects on island ecosystems.
The following was requested:
1. Lists of introduced insects from individual countries/islands.
2. Other databases or publications where information is aggregated on the impacts of alien insect species.
In response … many datasheets have been compiled by NPPOs when undertaking their own IRAs, but there seems to be a considerable reluctance to make this basic information available to others who have few resources.
As an example Biosecurity Australia is undertaking an IRA for apples ex New Zealand and have assessed over 440 individual pests; an IRA of grain has over 500 and a recent IRA of bananas is equally large. All these might contain information in which you have an interest as they not only assess arthropods, but diseases and weeds. Similar datasets generated by IRAs done by APHIS and other agencies are generally only summarized in their reports. This is despite the requirement for NPPOs to make information on their technical decisions available for scrutiny under the principle of transparency [ISPM #1; and IPPC Article 2(b)].
The CABI information, referred to above, was generated by the EU/EPPO to justify EU regulations, and it have become an essential resource for anyone undertaking IRAs, yet governments seem to be very reluctant even to make available the basic biological information they have compiled, for use outside their service.
It seems obvious that NPPOs should maintain a list of datasheets they have compiled so that others can access them on request. At present, anyone who needs to compile a datasheet, after searching the resources above, has to start from scratch. This is very inefficient, when it is possible that someone has already compiled much of the information for their own IRA needs.
The lack of information specialists in the Pacific
Information management in this area (IRAs) falls far short of what information technology today can offer. The problem is partly one of short supply of appropriate IT skills in the region. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has helped through the development of a standard Pest List Database that provides a fairly simple tool in which each country can store its own pest occurrence records. Papua New Guinea is the latest (and twelfth) Pacific Island country to adopt it. The system assembles all known data on pest occurrences in a country, and makes it available in a variety of formats at a few clicks on a keyboard. PNG is the biggest so far with over 12,000 PNG pest occurrence records entered. A pest list for any crop is generated in seconds. This system still falls short of what Galapagos is asking for in that, so far, it covers mostly pests of agricultural commodities, as it was designed to facilitate trade.
However, the system could readily be used to cover pests in the wider sense. The question may arise as to whether such data is available and, if not, who is going to collect it, and who is going to take on the task of entering into a Pest List Database and maintain such a system? While this is far more efficient than doing the same work on an ad hoc basis for each case that arises, it is still a significant task. It takes a few weeks to assemble and enter known (agricultural) pests of a Pacific Island country, and a 2-3-day workshop for staff to learn how to manage the system.
It was agreed at a meeting of Pacific Island representatives on 1 October 2003 that SPC explores the prospect of a merged, regional, database comprising the authenticated pest occurrence records of all the collaborating countries. It will be important in such an exercise to maintain each country’s ownership of, access to and responsibility for, its own national data set. Failure to address this issue contributed to the failure of previous attempts at delivering such a facility.