The origins of the convention can be traced back to 1865, when a French wine merchant imported a case of American vines infected with an alien species of aphid that nearly wiped France's wine industry off the map.
Today, with the global trade in agriculture products booming like never before, plant pests and diseases remain a significant challenge for food production and security.
The problem: as people and agricultural products move from country to country and region to region, pests move with them — hidden on the undersides of leaves or in the cracks of shipping crates, for example.
Plant pests and diseases have a serious effect on food production — global crop yields are reduced by 20 to 40 percent per year due to plant pests and diseases, estimates the FAO-based IPPC Secretariat.
An ounce of prevention...
"In today's globalized era, the task of preventing plant pests and diseases from spreading while facilitating rather than impeding trade is both more complex and more important than ever," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, "especially since warmer temperatures due to climate change are expected to both encourage the spread of pests into new areas as well as render some plants more susceptible to their effects."
He added that preventing the introduction of new pests, including invasive plants, into a country is far more cost effective than trying to eradicate or manage an outbreak after-the-fact.
"Prevention also means we avoid overuse of chemical pesticides, reducing financial burdens on farmers and safeguarding the environment and productive ecosystems".
Shared standards, safe trade
One of the IPPC's main activities is to establish and promote the use of science-based, internationally-agreed standards governing how plants and plant products should be handled during international trade or their movement across international boundaries, known as International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures, or ISPMs.
ISPMs cover a range of issues, from how products or product packing materials must be treated prior to export to procedures and methodologies used by agricultural inspectors in importing nations.
En savoir + : IPPC Brochure