Prima phacie: a new European Food Safety Authority funded research project taking a comparative approach to pest risk assessment and methods to evaluate pest risk management options


  • The project title, Prima phacie, is derived from the title of the original European Food Safety Authority call, ‘Pest risk assessment for the European Community plant health: A comparative approach with case studies’. In Latin, prima facie means ‘at first sight’, but in legal terms is interpreted to mean evidence which provides the basis for a legal case. The evidence is suggestive but not conclusive. Risk assessors often deal with evidence that is suggestive but not conclusive.


In late 2009, a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)-funded project (Prima phacie) began work to review and test methodologies for conducting pest risk assessment by means of case studies on three phytoplasmas (Candidatus Phytoplasma mali, Ca. P. prunorum, Ca. P. pyri); two bacteria (Acidovorax avenae subsp. citrulli, Xanthomonas citri [=X. axonopodis] pv. citri); two fungi (Guignardia citricarpa, Mycosphaerella dearnessii); two nematodes (Meloidogyne chitwoodi, M. fallax); and an insect (Anoplophora glabripennis). Multiple risk assessment schemes and methods will be applied to each of the case study pests, allowing for a comparative assessment of methods. Methods to assess the effectiveness of possible risk management options for each pest will also be evaluated. The project will further develop the scientific basis for pest risk assessment within the European Community and identify methodologies most suitable for conducting risk assessments and for evaluating the effectiveness of possible risk management options by the EFSA Panel on Plant Health in order to support European decision making. The project lasts 29 months, and is being conducted by an international consortium of 11 partners consisting of phytosanitary organizations, research institutes and a university. Results will be disseminated via conventional publications and at a workshop in March 2012.