b'The complexity and rapidly evolving diversity of seed-borne diseases adds another layer of difficulty. Regulations may not adequately account for the range of pests that can be scientifically proven to affect seeds, leading to overregu-lation on seeds as a commodity. This could compromise agricultural productivity and food security, as it will create a barrier to the inter-national movement of seeds, says Souza-Richards.In addition, the lack of a standardized international approach may impede collaboration and information sharing among coun-tries. Timely and transparent communication is crucial for effec-tive disease management, and regulatory barriers can impede the exchange of vital information related to emerging threats.To address these drawbacks, there is a need for increased inter-national cooperation, streamlined communication channels, and agile regulatory frameworks that can adapt swiftly to the dynamic nature of emerging seed-borne diseases, says Souza-Richards. These improvements would enhance global preparedness and resilience in the face of evolving agricultural challenges, she says.IN PURSUIT OF ERADICATIONThe pursuit of eradication for emerging plant diseases in the context of seed health can have substantial implications for the seed sector on a global scale. Souza-Richards admits that while the goal of eradication is commendable for preventing the spread of harmful pathogens, it comes with its own set of challenges and impacts.This is a major issue, agrees Metzelaar. Particularly the veg-etable and ornamental seed sectors are highly international. Seed is generally high value, low volume, but high risk. Strict eradication measures make research for resistance nearly impossible because the seed has to move in and out of what are considered risk areas for theSurveillance and monitoring to identify threats are just some of the measures emerging disease in order to correctly assess resistance.being employed by the international seed sector to mitigate risks associated Short term eradication might seem the best solution, but expe- with emerging international diseases.rience shows that this is very ambitious, and very risky. In the end, prevention and the development of resistance are proven to be more effective longer-term solutions. in research, early detection, and shared best practices can mitigate One of the challenges in the pursuit of eradication is thethe negative impacts of eradication efforts, ensuring global seed financial burden, which can be significant, on the seed sector.security while fostering a resilient and interconnected seed industry.Implementing rigorous eradication measures, such as extensive testing, quarantine protocols, and destruction of affected seed lotsMITIGATION TOOLScan incur substantial cost.There are several tools and measures that the international seed sector This financial strain is particularly felt by smaller seed produc- can employ to mitigate risks associated with emerging diseases.ers who may struggle to meet stringent requirements, potentiallyCertainly, mitigating risks associated with emerging interna-leading to market consolidation and reduced diversity within thetional diseases in the seed sector requires a multifaceted approach, sector, says Souza-Richards. says Souza-Richards. Furthermore, the pursuit of eradication may result in disrup- The following tools and measures are already being employed by tions to global seed trade. Strict measures to contain and elimi- the international seed sector and will continue to be used to mitigate nate emerging diseases can lead to temporary or permanent traderisks associated with emerging international diseases:restrictions. Such disruptions not only impact the affected regions,1. Genetic Resistance and Breeding Programs: Seed companies but also reverberate across the global supply chain, impacting seedinvest in breeding programs to develop seed varieties with genetic availability, prices, and agricultural productivity on a broader scale. resistance to prevalent diseases. By selecting for resistance traits, the The focus on eradication may also lead to increased regulatoryindustry enhances the long-term resilience of crops.complexity. As countries implement their own measures to combat2. Disease Surveillance and Monitoring: Seed companies emerging diseases, the lack of international standardization canregularly assess and analyse seed health data through their many create a patchwork of regulations.activities employed during crop production to identify emerging Navigating this regulatory maze becomes challenging for busi- threats early, allowing for timely responses and preventive actions.nesses engaged in cross-border trade, potentially impeding the flow3. International Collaboration and Information Sharing: The of seeds and hindering global collaboration in research and develop- international seed sector does and will continue to foster collabora-ment, adds Souza-Richards. tion among international seed organizations, research institutions, She underlines that balancing the imperative of disease controland regulatory bodies. This facilitates the exchange of information, with the need for sustainable seed industries requires a collabora- research findings, and best practices, which in turn enhances col-tive and harmonized international approach. Coordinated effortslective knowledge and preparedness.SEEDWORLD.COM/EUROPEISEED WORLD EUROPE I 7'