Enhancements of pest risk analysis techniques

Contribution to Work Package 3: enhancing techniques for standardising and summarising pest risk assessments – review of best practice in enhancing consistency


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    This work is part of the PRATIQUE Project. PRATIQUE is an EC-funded 7th Framework research project designed to address the major challenges for pest risk analysis (PRA) in Europe. It has three principal objectives: (i) to assemble the datasets required to construct PRAs valid for the whole of the EU, (ii) to conduct multi-disciplinary research that enhances the techniques used in PRA and (iii) to provide a decision support scheme for PRA that is efficient and user-friendly. For further information please visit the project website or e-mail the project office using the details provided below: Email: pratique@csl.gov.uk, Internet: http://www.pratiqueproject.eu.


International, regional and national standards for plant health pest risk assessment and examples of their use from countries around the globe were examined together with similar documents from related fields such as animal health, nature conservation and genetically modified organism (GMO) assessment to determine how the consistency of assessing risk, or components of risk, within and between assessments is addressed. A range of approaches was identified that could be adopted and adapted for use in a revised decision support scheme for quarantine pests by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) to aid consistency. No single scheme contained a mechanism to ensure or guarantee consistency and no single scheme contained all of the approaches identified to maximize consistency. If the approach of using a five division scale to describe individual components that contribute to evaluating the overall pest risk is to be maintained in the EPPO scheme, then the primary needs required in the EPPO scheme to enhance consistency are (i) the provision of examples that describe divisions within the scales, or alternative but equivalent descriptors that allow assessors to distinguish between divisions, and (ii) a mechanism to combine risk elements in a consistent and transparent way. Features that would help inexperienced assessors include a clear structure, clear rating guidance, questions posed unambiguously, provision of standardized answers and an easily applicable method to interpret and summarize risk ratings. Beyond improvements to the EPPO scheme, assessors using the scheme will need training. Providing links to information and suggesting data sources that would help assessors answer questions would also be helpful (this is being addressed in Work Package 1 of PRATIQUE).