New Approach to International Seed Trade

The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is accepting comments until Feb. 23 on two documents associated with its new Regulatory Framework for Seed Health (ReFreSH).

APHIS states that there have traditionally been minimal import requirements for seeds because they were seen as a relatively low risk for introducing invasive plant pests and diseases. However, recent outbreaks of seed-transmitted diseases, the increasingly global nature of the seed trade, and the increasing volume and complexity of that trade have increased that risk. As a result, importing countries are requiring more and more specific declarations of pest absence in traded seed.

ReFreSH aims to respond to these developments by replacing the current system of consignment-by-consignment certification via inspection and testing with a globally-accepted system where accreditation of producers and production processes forms the basis for phytosanitary certification. Click here to learn more.

APHIS is accepting comments on two documents associated with this initiative: (1) the ReFreSH accreditation standard, which describes the essential elements of the program, outlines requirements for participation, and explains participant roles and responsibilities, and (2) the ReFreSH participant manual, which describes the procedures and processes entities use to comply with the accreditation standard. APHIS is particularly interested in industry views on feasibility, cost, accreditation process, the program’s potential to reduce pest risk, and additional industry best practices to manage pest risk.

Imports of Dracaena from Guatemala Under Review

APHIS is considering a request to authorize the importation of dracaena for planting from Guatemala into the U.S. and its territories. APHIS has drafted a pest risk assessment that lists the potential pests likely to remain on this commodity upon importation if no mitigation is applied. Comments on this assessment, including information that might lead APHIS to revise its assessment before identifying pest mitigations and proceeding with the commodity import approval process, are due by Feb. 22.

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