Plant protection treaty celebrates 60 years

Plant experts from around the world are celebrating a global pact to fight plant pests that was launched 60 years ago.

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) - the treaty to prevent plant pests and diseases spreading across international boundaries - was unveiled in 1952.

However, the origins of the convention can be traced back to 1865, when a French wine merchant imported American vines infected with an alien species of aphid that nearly wiped France's wine industry off the map.

"Global crop yields are reduced by 20-40 per cent a year due to plant pests and diseases," said a UN Food & Agriculture Organisation spokesman. "Pests can hide on the undersides of leaves or in shipping crates."

The group highlighted Ceratitis capitata, the Mediterranean fruit fly, for its devastating hit on horticultural production, while the larger grain borer from central America destroyed up to 80 per cent of stored grains in East Africa in the 1980s.

IPPC director-general Jose Graziano da Silva said preventing the introduction of new pests, including invasive plants, was more cost-effective than trying to eradicate or manage an outbreak afterwards.

The IPPC uses International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures to combat pests and the convention includes 177 countries, each of which has a national plant collection organisation.

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