Cut Roses Imports Pose Risks of Pest Introduction into the EU, Says EFSA Report

by Anna

The European Commission has recently requested the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to conduct a quantitative pest risk assessment to evaluate the potential pathway for the introduction of Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) into the European Union through the import of cut roses.

The assessment, performed by EFSA’s Plant Health Panel, focused on the entry and establishment stages of the pest. A comprehensive route model was employed to estimate the survival and emergence of T. leucotreta individuals as adults from commercial or domestic waste in a climate-appropriate EU region during specific seasons.

The entryway model consisted of three key components: a cut rose distribution model, a T. leucotreta development model, and a waste model. Four distinct time scenarios, ranging from 3 to 28 days, were considered from the initial handling of cut roses to waste treatment. The assessment determined that the estimated average number of adult T. leucotreta emerging annually from imported cut roses in all climate-suitable NUTS2 regions of the EU ranged from 49,867 to 143,689, with associated uncertainties.

Assuming an average of one successful mating for every 435 escaping moths, the report indicates that the estimated average number of T. leucotreta females mated per year from cut roses imported into EU climate-suitable NUTS2 regions would range from 115 to 330, with associated uncertainties, depending on the time scenario.

One significant aspect highlighted in the report is the extreme polyphagia of T. leucotreta, meaning its ability to feed on a wide range of host plants. Consequently, the establishment of this pest would not be restricted by the availability of host plants. Moreover, the evaluation of climatic suitability, conducted through a physiologically based demographic modeling approach, identified a coastal area extending from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula to the Mediterranean as a suitable region for the establishment of T. leucotreta.

In conclusion, the EFSA report unequivocally suggests that the import of cut roses represents a potential pathway for the introduction of Thaumatotibia leucotreta into the European Union. This assessment underscores the need for robust measures to manage and mitigate the risks associated with the importation of cut roses to safeguard European plant health.

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