EU to Ban Import of High-Risk Plants

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Effective December 2019, the European Union has announced a ban on the importation of certain plants deemed as high-risk ornamentals in relation to risk of pest introduction. So far, banned plants include the following genera: 

Acacia, Acer, Albizia, Alnus, Annona, Bauhinia, Berberis, Betula, Caesalpina, Cassia, Castanea, Cornus, Corylus, Crataegus, Diospyros, Fagus, Fraxinus, Hamamelis, Jasminum, Juglans, Ligustrum, Lonicera, Malus, Nerium, Persea, Populus, Prunus, Quercus, Robinia, Salix, Sorbus, Taxus, Tilia, and Ulmus.

The ban will apply to all countries outside of the EU that are importing to any EU country. Exceptions may be permitted, following a risk assessment process undertaken by the country of origin. Then the European Food Safety Authority will review the assessment, gauge the threat posed to the EU, and make recommendations accordingly to the European Commission. The timeline for this process remains unclear; however, requests should be received by December 14, 2019.

Furthermore, plants with attached soil upon entry will also face tougher regulations for import to the EU, effective early 2019. For example, the soil must be treated in the country of origin prior to importation in the EU. 

These are the latest regulatory restrictions to follow the inadvertent introduction of Xylella fastidiosa into the EU in 2013 and will undoubtedly impact breeding programs and limit new variety introductions. Over a million olive trees have been killed by X. fastidiosa in southern Italy, and the disease has been found in many other countries in the EU. In most countries, it has been successfully eradicated, but the threat of widespread establishment remains. The EU responded by tightening restrictions of plant importations, especially from countries where X. fastidiosa is established, including the U.S.

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