b'Protecting Plants is Protecting LivesTHE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF PLANT HEALTH 2020.BY: ROSALINDA SCALIAT his year marks the first ever International Year of Plant Health (IYPH).This milestone was achieved thanks to the persis-tence and vision of Finland. As a signatory to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and participant in the Commission on phytosanitary measures, the IPPCs highest gov-erning body, the EU has supported this initiative from the outset.The IYPH provides us with an opportunity to shine a light on the important, but often unacknowledged, role that plants play in many areas of our lives: they give us the food we eat, feed our animals and provide us with many other items we use on a daily basis. Healthy plants are vital for biodiversity, the natural envi-ronment and play a key role in the fight against climate change. The IYPH coincides with the full implementation of the revised EU plant health law, regulation 2016/2031 on protective measures against plant pests. The law strengthens the preventive approach to plant pests and diseases with more harmonised rules at import. Furthermore, it makes phytosanitary certificates for any plant being moved into the EU obligatory and puts in place strict measures for handling plant disease and pest outbreaks. Plant health links to other important EU policy initiativesbiodiversity, the EU Green Deal with its Farm to Fork strat-egy for safer and more sustainable food, but also the one health approach combining animal and human health, to which plant health can be added.Plant health and public health share a common approach to tackling health threats: invest in prevention, contain the dis-ease and ensure safe trade and collaboration on a global scale to overcome health threats.Plant health is also central to the EU Commissions (EC) upcoming Farm to Fork strategy. The strategy aims to ensure our food is safe to eat, our diets include whole nutritious food as well as promote sustainable agriculture.A crucial part of the strategy is the reduction of pesticideRosalinda Scaliause. Thanks to the emphasis on prevention, import controls, sur-veys and monitoring of plant health, the new EU plant health regulation will help make a pesticide reduction target achievable.tary certificate for any plant or plant material they wish to bring A stakeholder consultation on the strategy is expected this year. back into the EU.But plants pests ignore borders. In the 21st century, trade isEurope has experienced a number of plant disease or increasingly global. This increases the risk of pests and diseasespest-related crises in recent years, the most devastating of which spreading. Therefore, our response to these threats, and poten- were caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa and ToBRFV, tial threats, must also be global. the Tomato brown rugose fruit virus, which has been detected Seeds and plants for planting are the material with the high- in tomato crops in parts of the European Union. The latter novel est plant health risk. That is the reason why they have to bevirus spreads through seeds and can devastate entire cultures of controlled at border control posts. EU official controls encompasstomato plants. This is why the EU will work both inside the EU phytosanitary controls. Even passengers now need a phytosani- but also with its international partners to tackle this challenge 28IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'