Statement on the dossier for a derogation request of the US authorities concerning cold-treated strawberry plants intended for planting
Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Plant Health examined the report “Evaluation of Strawberry Nursery Plant Cold Treatments on Survival of the Whitefly, Bemisia tabaci”, submitted to the European Commission by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The report serves as technical justification for a derogation from requirements listed in Annex IV, Part A, Section 1, point 46 of the Council Directive 2000/29/EC. The Panel concluded that due to shortcomings in the report itself and in the experimental design of the study, this report does not demonstrate the effectiveness of the cold treatment proposed for the elimination of B. tabaci from strawberry plant consignments prepared for shipment to the EU. In addition, the Panel conducted a preliminary review of the available literature on viruses of strawberry and concluded that no B. tabaci-transmitted viruses are currently known to infect strawberry and that no viruses of Fragaria listed in European Council Directive 2000/29/EC are known to be transmitted by B. tabaci. However, adult whiteflies of B. tabaci on strawberry consignments can carry plant viruses irrespective of whether strawberry is a host plant for these viruses and thus represent a pathway for the introduction of non-European viruses. There is also some uncertainty concerning the extent to which known or unknown B. tabaci-transmitted viruses could infect strawberry. Irrespective of the presence of B. tabaci, strawberry transplants from the US may represent a pathway for the introduction of any non-European virus (and other potentially harmful organisms) of Fragaria.