Harmonized regulation of biological control agents

 

Convenor JAQUES MIRET Josep Anton
Liaison-Officer DE CLERCQ Patrick

Structure

The Commission on the Harmonisation of Invertebrate Biological Control Agents (CHIBCA) was first established in 2003 with Franz Bigler as Convenor. The Commission had 7 members originally but also invited other scientists to attend meetings. In January 2006, Jeff Bale was elected by the Council of WPRS as the new Convenor of the Commission. Following the end of the EU-funded REBECA project in 2007(see activities), CHIBCA was ‘reactivated’ with a primary role of representing IOBC in a joint panel with EPPO to review and update the ‘Positive List’ of ‘safe’ biological control agents, and take on other activities as appropriate. Many of the people who were requested to serve as IOBC-WPRS members of the joint panel were also nominated by their countries to be the EPPO representatives, hence the number of ‘IOBC-only’ Commission members on the panel is currently 4.

Aim

The following objectives were formulated and approved by the Council when CHIBCA was established in 2003:

  • To collect information on the status of regulation requirements for Invertebrate Biological Control Agents (IBCAs) in countries of the WPRS and to compile an overview
  • To organize a workshop with countries that participated in the data compilation together with stakeholders, such as the biocontrol industry and regulators
  • To produce a document that gives detailed guidance on regulation procedures and data requirements for non-native and native IBCAs based on the content and guidelines in existing international documents (e.g. FAO, EPPO, OECD)
  • To up-date and improve EPPO’s list of safe and widely used organisms
  • To propose a consultation procedure that will allow exchange and use of information and data on IBCAs between WPRS countries
  • To propose a permanent expert group to give advice on the regulation of IBCAs

Activities

In winter 2003, Franz Bigler was contacted by the EU-DG Research and a meeting was held in early 2004 to discuss the idea of launching a policy support activity on the harmonized regulation of invertebrate biocontrol agents. A first meeting of the Commission was convened at a workshop in Zurich, Switzerland in July 2004. Twenty biocontrol scientists, regulators and representatives of commercial companies were invited to attend the meeting. As a follow-up to the meeting, a small group met regularly to prepare and finalize a consensus on guidelines for the regulation of invertebrate biocontrol agents in Europe and the IOBC-WPRS area more widely. The resulting document was published in 2005 (see achievements). At the July 2004 meeting in Zurich a decision was made in principle to submit a project (‘REBECA’) to the EU with Ralf-Udo Ehlers as the coordinator. The Commission suspended its activities during the REBECA project in 2006 and partly in 2007 because several members of the Commission were involved in REBECA, and the main aim of the project was to make recommendations for a balanced regulatory system of invertebrate biological control agents in Europe. In 2007, Jeff Bale and the Presidents of IOBC-WPRS and IOBC Global met several times with the DG of EPPO to discuss possible collaboration between EPPO and IOBC with regard to the EPPO Positive List and related joint activities on IBCA regulation. Based on a recommendation from the REBECA project, EPPO and IOBC agreed to establish a joint panel which met for the first time in March 2008 in Wageningen. The primary business was to consider recommendations for the addition or deletion of species from the Positive List that had been created in 2002, but not subsequently reviewed. As the REBECA project had proposed updated criteria for placing species on the Positive List, the Director General of EPPO (Chair of the Joint Panel) agreed to discuss with EPPO Council in June 2008 the adoption of the new criteria. REBECA also made a further important recommendation that the EPPO-IOBC joint panel should provide on request, advice to EU member states (and EPPO countries not in the EU) on the safety of ‘first releases’ of non-native species in Europe/EPPO region. The EPPO DG undertook to discuss this issue at EPPO Council in June 2008.

The second meeting of the joint panel will be held in Engelberg, Switzerland on 25-27 March 2009. There are several new recommendations for additions/deletions to the Positive List. The meeting will also discuss adoption of the new criteria and progress toward the joint panel taking on an advisory role.

Achievements

A small group of Commission members produced a paper in 2005 that integrated all previous recommendations and guidelines on the regulation of invertebrate biological control agents (Bigler et al. 2005). Jeff Bale was a member of the Steering Committee of REBECA and responsible for coordinating all activities on Invertebrate Biocontrol Agents in the project. In total, 4 main meetings on IBCAs were convened, and a further 4 sub-group meetings were arranged (on ERA methods, Nematodes, Positive List, and Standardised Licence (permit) application forms). Jeff Bale attended 10 REBECA meetings, and with co-authors, prepared various intermediate reports and 5 documents for the final report relating to the stated deliverables of the REBECA project. As a result of the CHIBCA and REBECA activities, a collaboration between EPPO and IOBC-WPRS is now established. The IOBC CHIBCA members have contributed effectively to the new joint panel with a very productive meeting in Wageningen. The Engelberg meeting in March 2009 will be an opportunity to agree the frequency of the future meetings of the joint panel, and thus other activities that the Commission might undertake.

Recent publications:

Bigler, F., Bale, J.S., Cock, M.J.W., Dreyer, H., GreatRex, R., Kulhmann, U., Loomans, A.J.M. and van Lenteren, J.C. (2005). Guidelines for information requirements for import and release of invertebrate biological control agents in European countries. Biological Control News and Information 26, 115-123.

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