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Statement on the assessment of the risk posed to plant health in the EU territory by the intentional release of biological control agents of invasive alien plant species

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Classical biological control has been successfully used in various continents to manage many invasive alien plants originating from Europe, but this approach is still not widely adopted in Europe, despite its advantages (sustainable, effective, efficacious, good safety record) compared to chemical and manual control of weeds. Following the publication in April 2015 of the EFSA PLH Scientific Opinion on the risk posed to plant health in the EU by the intentional release of the bud-galling wasp Trichilogaster acaciaelongifoliae for the control of the invasive alien plant Acacia longifolia, the EFSA PLH Panel is publishing this statement on the procedure to follow should similar requests be made in future. Ideally what is required for an EFSA Opinion on a risk assessment of a BCA release is: (i) host specificity tests of a plant list agreed in advance by an appropriate body; (ii) a risk assessment for plant health produced using a standardized template for the whole of the EU or at the least for an appropriate bio-climatic area within the EU; and (iii) consideration of benefits. This process could be facilitated by an expert working group that would be available to advise the applicant at regular intervals. The role of EFSA is best suited to providing a peer review of a weed BCA risk assessment for the EU considering that peer review of applications prepared by researchers specialized in a particular BCA is the procedure adopted for BCA risk assessment in the countries that have much experience with using exotic BCAs of weeds. Following the appropriate International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) 3 and European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) Phytosanitary Measure (PM) 6/1 standards will help the releasing authority manage the process. Post-release, as per EPPO PM 6/2, all appropriate safety procedures should be put in place.

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