A new global electronic certification system aimed at reducing the spread of plant pests and diseases through global trade has been approved by member states from more than 150 countries, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
The new initiative – called e-Phyto – will curb the spread of threats to plants through international trade in "a more secure and cost-effective way" and will be developed by the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, the governing body of the International Plant Protection Convention, the FAO said in a press release.
This decision will pave the way for the eventual replacement of the current "complex, bureaucratic process," in which millions of paper phytosanitary certificates are exchanged between countries yearly, with a more efficient digital system.
The new e-Phyto process is expected to reduce overall costs from the existing paper-based methods
while strengthening global adherence to the IPPC phytosanitary standards.
It is also expected to simplify and reduce the cost of the $1.1 trillion annual global trade in agricultural products, increase the ability of countries to identify items that pose a high risk and reduce the potential for fraud and hence collateral damage.
"Security and confidentiality are crucial concerns that have been thoroughly addressed in the system design," Peter Thomson, the IPPC’s Bureau lead for the e-Phyto development, told the CPM meeting in Rome this week.
"Secure electronic exchange of certificates between NPPOs [National Plant Protection Organisations] will eliminate problems some countries currently experience with the use of fraudulent certificates by importers or exporters."
For more of the UN story: www.un.org