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Global trade and the introduction of pests: a threat to our crops

Der Asiatische Laubholzbockkäfer (ALB) ist mit einheimischen Käferarten kaum zu verwechseln. © Thomas Schröder/JKI
The Asian Longhorn Beetle (ALB) can hardly be confused with native beetle species. © Thomas Schröder/JKI
Durch das Bakterium Xylella fastidiosa geschädigte Olivenbäume in Italien. © Michael Maixner/JKI

JKI presentation at Green Week in Berlin draws public attention to International Year of Plant Health. Further activities planned. Animated video shows what everyone should bear in mind when ordering plants on the Internet.

(Braunschweig) Due to the global trade in plants, there is a permanent risk of diseases and pests being introduced into regions where they are not indigenous. The United Nations General Assembly has therefore designated 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). But what is behind this rather abstract term? "Plant health is not the same as plant protection," emphasizes Dr. Bernhard C. Schäfer, who is head of the JKI institute responsible for plant health issues. After all, plant health is not about controlling pests, e.g., by using pesticides in the field. “Rather, the aim is to prevent non-indigenous harmful organisms such as insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses or even plants from being introduced unnoticed into Europe or Germany. Such harmful organisms can pose considerable risks for domestic agriculture and for the economy as a whole, and can also have a highly negative impact on biodiversity,” explains Schäfer. So-called quarantine pests therefore require immediate action to prevent them from establishing, The European Union has issued a comprehensive set of regulations for this purpose, and the JKI is playing a key role in their implementation in Germany.

At the International Green Week (IGW) in Berlin from 17 to 26 January, Dr. Schäfer and his colleagues will be presenting some of these invasive pests. For example, the Asian longhorn beetle, which is particularly dangerous for maple trees, or the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which threatens olive cultivation in Southern Europe. And they provide information on how to prevent their spread. This does not only concern international trade with huge amounts of plants. As tourists, private individuals can also unintentionally bring pests with them from their holidays. In a short, easy-to-understand animated video, the JKI shows what each of us can do to protect our environment when ordering plants on the Internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxAf-ZGmNP0

The Green Week participation is the launch event to a series of events and activities the JKI is planning on the occasion of the IYPH.

JKI activities in the International Year of Plant Health 2020 (selection):

Fairs and congresses

Inviting the public

  • Long Night of the Sciences in Berlin on 6 June
  • Open Day at the JKI headquarters in Quedlinburg on 20 June
  • Students’ Day for our partner school in Quedlinburg on 14 July
  • Open Day at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Berlin
  • Citizens’ Breakfast the day before the Open Monument Day in Quedlinburg on 12 September

More information

Please go to https://www.julius-kuehn.de/en/national-and-international-plant-health/international-year-of-plant-health-2020/  to find

  • Leaflets on new selected quarantine pests
  • Leaflets on travel souvenirs and Internet trade


Articles in the “Journal of Cultivated Plants“

Scientific contact: Dr. Bernhard C. Schäfer, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Institute for National and International Plant Health
Messeweg 11/12, 38104 Braunschweig
E-Mail: bernhard.carl.schaefer@  julius-kuehn.  de | Tel.: +49(0)531 299 4300