b'Both agree that the delay in updating regulations to addresstrade restrictions. Such disruptions not only impact the affected new and evolving threats, along with the delay in eliminating out- regions, but also reverberate across the global supply chain, dated and obsolete requirements that lack technical justificationimpacting seed availability, prices, and agricultural productivity for the listed pests, are both notable drawbacks to the existingon a broader scale.systems. The focus on eradication may also lead to increased regula-The complexity and rapidly evolving diversity of seed-bornetory complexity. As countries implement their own measures to diseases adds another layer of difficulty.combat emerging diseases, the lack of international standardiza-Regulations may not adequately account for the range oftion can create a patchwork of regulations. pests that can be scientifically proven to affect seeds, leading toNavigating this regulatory maze becomes challenging for overregulation on seeds as a commodity. This could compromisebusinesses engaged in cross-border trade, potentially impeding agricultural productivity and food security, as it will create a bar- the flow of seeds and hindering global collaboration in research rier to the international movement of seeds, says Souza-Richards. and development, Souza-Richards adds.In addition, the lack of a standardized international approachShe underlines that balancing the imperative of disease con-may impede collaboration and information sharing among coun- trol with the need for sustainable seed industries requires a col-tries. Timely and transparent communication is crucial for effec- laborative and harmonized international approach. Coordinated tive disease management, and regulatory barriers can impedeefforts in research, early detection and shared best practices the exchange of vital information related to emerging threats. can mitigate the negative impacts of eradication efforts, ensur-To address these drawbacks, there is a need for increaseding global seed security while fostering a resilient and intercon-international cooperation, streamlined communication chan- nected seed industry.nels and agile regulatory frameworks that can adapt swiftly to the dynamic nature of emerging seed-borne diseases, Souza- Mitigation ToolsRichards says.There are several tools and measures that the international seed These improvements would enhance global preparedness andsector can employ to mitigate risks associated with emerging resilience in the face of evolving agricultural challenges, she says. diseases.Certainly, mitigating risks associated with emerging inter-In Pursuit of Eradication national diseases in the seed sector requires a multifaceted The pursuit of eradication for emerging plant diseases in theapproach, Souza-Richards says. context of seed health can have substantial implications forThe following tools and measures are already being employed the seed sector on a global scale. Souza-Richards admits thatby the international seed sector and will continue to be used to while the goal of eradication is commendable for preventing themitigate risks associated with emerging international diseases:spread of harmful pathogens, it comes with its own set of chal- 1. Genetic Resistance and Breeding Programs: Seed companies lenges and impacts. invest in breeding programs to develop seed varieties with genetic This is a major issue, Metzelaar agrees. Particularly the veg- resistance to prevalent diseases. By selecting for resistance traits, etable and ornamental seed sectors are highly international. Seedthe industry enhances the long-term resilience of crops.is generally high value, low volume, but high risk. Strict eradication2. Disease Surveillance and Monitoring: Seed companies measures make research for resistance nearly impossible becauseregularly assess and analyse seed health data through their many the seed has to move in and out of what are considered risk areasactivities employed during crop production to identify emerg-for the emerging disease in order to correctly assess resistance.ing threats early, allowing for timely responses and preventive Short term eradication might seem the best solution, butactions.experience shows that this is very ambitious, and very risky. In the3. International Collaboration and Information Sharing: The end, prevention and the development of resistance are proven tointernational seed sector does and will continue to foster col-be more effective longer-term solutions. laboration among international seed organizations, research One of the challenges to the pursuit of eradication is theinstitutions, and regulatory bodies. This facilitates the exchange financial burden, which can be significant, on the seed sector.of information, research findings, and best practices, which in Implementing rigorous eradication measures, such as extensiveturn enhances collective knowledge and preparedness.testing, quarantine protocols and destruction of affected seed4. Phytosanitary Standards: The international seed sector lots can incur substantial cost.supports the adoption of internationally recognized phytosani-This financial strain is particularly felt by smaller seed produc- tary standards for seed trade, such as ISPM 38. The correct ers who may struggle to meet stringent requirements, potentiallyimplementation of these international standards allows for the leading to market consolidation and reduced diversity within theestablishment of import requirements for seeds that are har-sector, Souza-Richards says. monized and predictable, allowing efficient movement of seeds Furthermore, the pursuit of eradication may result in disrup- crossing international borders.tions to global seed trade. Strict measures to contain and elimi- By incorporating these tools and measures, the international nate emerging diseases can lead to temporary or permanentseed sector is enhancing its capacity to mitigate risks associated 22/ SEEDWORLD.COMINTERNATIONAL EDITION 2024'