Status: Ongoing
Start date:
Last update: 2016-08-20

February 2011 Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) is spreading in Africa

      The Republic of South Africa is the 4th African country to report the epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS) on its territory, following earlier notifications by Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. This disease of fresh-water (fin)fish affects a large number of species and is caused by a fungus (oomycete) Aphanomyces invadans. While the three previous discoveries all occurred in the Chobe-Zambezi river basin, this new discovery was made in the far south of South Africa, in a dam on the Palmiet river, close to Grabouw in the Western Cape province. Lesions were discovered in wild finfish that have been living in the dam for a long time, while recently introduced rainbow trout for a fish farming operation, remained unaffected. EUS is an OIE-listed disease. The OIE Reference Laboratory for this disease is based in Thailand (AAHRI, Bangkok), but a laboratory twinning programme is underway with the University of Zambia (UNZA) . The FAO has produced an information leaflet regarding this disease, which is now also available in French, thanks to the financial support of the OIE Sub-regional Representation for Southern Africa, based in Botswana, one of the affected countries Download the brochure in English (4.3 Mb)   Source:
Status: Emerging
Start date:
Last update: 2016-08-16

Issue created 4 May 2016 following the detection of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a Norwegian reindeer in March 2016, announced late April 2016.

This is the first detection of CWD in Europe and in reindeer. Previously it had been restricted to North America (USA and Canada) and South Korea (following importation of deer/reproductive material from Canada).

Status: Potential
Start date:
Last update: 2016-08-11

For over one decade many fish species from the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret - Isreal) have been suspected of dying from a mysterious disease.

The disease has been found in about 15% of the lakes fish population and also in fish ponds in the Hula Valley. So far, the disease is known to affect species such as St. Peter's Fish (tilapia), silver carp, carp, and mullet.

The disease was investigated in September 2011 by Isreal's Ministry of Agriculture Veterinary Services, but at that time no pathogen had been identified. Recent Ministry of Agriculture investigations have identified the problem is worsening in tilapia, which may be linked to the discovery of a virus affecting the eye.

The Ministry says that the virus poses absolutely no peril to public health, to those either eating the fish or swimming with them.

Mon 2015-Feb-2

Identification of a novel RNA virus. Tilapia Lake Virus TiLV

An international scientific team led by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Tel Aviv University has identified and characterized a novel virus behind massive die-offs of farmed tilapia in Israel and Ecuador, which threatens the $7.5 billion global tilapia industry.

A paper in the journal mBio describes tilapia lake virus (TiLV) and provides information needed to fight the outbreak.

Known in its native Middle East as St. Peter's fish and thought to be the biblical fish that fed multitudes, tilapia provides inexpensive dietary protein.

The world's second most farmed fish, tilapia is also the basis of aquaculture employment in developing countries in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. (The United States is the leading tilapia importer globally.)

Since 2009, Israel has seen precipitous declines in tilapia, with annual yields plummeting as much as 85 per cent--highly unusual considering the fish is known to be relatively resistant to viral infections. Similar die-offs have been seen in Ecuador and Colombia.

Status: Emerging
Start date:
Last update: 2016-08-11

On 24 July 2014, South Korea reported an outbreak of type O foot and mouth disease in a pig farm in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province to the OIE: Infection was confirmed by antigen capture ELISA and PCR. Media reports suggest that 600 pigs of 1500 on the farm have been culled so far. Media reports suggest that the pigs had not been vaccinated. Vaccination for FMD serotypes O, A and Asia 1 is practiced in South Korea.

On 28 July 2014, South Korea reported a second outbreak around 70km away in a 2000-head piggery.

In May 2014, South Korea's FMD status had been recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health as free with vaccination.

Status: Potential
Start date:
Last update: 2016-06-22
Status: Ongoing
Start date:
Last update: 2016-06-14

CHILE - Oceana has been granted access to information on Chile's salmon farming antibiotic use between 2009 and 2013, following a unanimous ruling by Santiago’s Court of Appeals.

“We are pleased to hear the reversal of an incorrect ruling by the Transparency Council. Clearly, this is public information as it allows people to make decisions on fundamental issues, such as health and the environment, in addition to making scrutiny on whether the Government is effectively controlling this industry or not,” stated Alex Muñoz, Vice President for Oceana in Chile.

In July 2014, Oceana resorted to the Transparency Council after 50 salmon farms refused to reveal the amount and type of antibiotics used by them, on the grounds that this would entail “a competitive and commercial risk.”

The Transparency Council agreed with the salmon farms and declared that the National Fishery Service is not required to reveal disaggregated figures.



Status: Emerging
Start date:
Last update: 2016-05-25

There are only enough honeybees in Britain to properly pollinate a quarter of the country’s crops, scientists claim.

Destruction of huge swathes of grassland and the use of agricultural chemicals have caused a spiralling drop in the populations of honeybees, which are vital for food production.

Professor Simon Potts of the University of Reading, who led the research project, said: ‘We face a catastrophe in future years unless we act now.’


Destruction of huge swathes of grassland and the use of agricultural chemicals have caused a spiralling drop in the populations of honeybees, which are vital for food production


THE STUDY IN NUMBERS Europe has 13.4million too few honeybee colonies to properly pollinate all its crops. The bees do the work of polinating crops for free that would otherwise cost British farmers £1.8billion to replace. Overall, the 41 European countries studied have only two-thirds of the honeybees they need. The problem is particularly acute in Britain, where there are only 275,000 colonies - a quarter of the one million colonies needed to maximise yields. A bee colony can vary in size from 20,000 to 60,000 bees.  Previous studies have estimated that the number of British honeybees have halved over the last 25 years.

The research, published in the journal PLOS One, found that Europe has 13.4million too few honeybee colonies to properly pollinate all its crops.

Bee populations have plummeted as their meadowland habitats were concreted over and their wildflower food supply killed by herbicides.

Read more: 
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Status: Potential
Start date:
Last update: 2016-05-19

The illegal trade and sale of African bushmeat presents a number of serious biosecurity risks. In addition the trade and sale of these products has a significant impact on the maintenance of populations of protected (CITES) or endangered species.

This issue page has been created to monitor information on African bushmeat over the issue period to assist with understanding of this trade.

Status: Ongoing
Start date:
Last update: 2016-05-17

Colectivelly nominated the 10th staple food of the world, banana and plantain (the starchy relative of banana, staple food in many poorer comunities in the Third World) are quite susceptible to pests and diseases. International banana trade relies almost exclusively on one type, the Cavendish sub-group. This cultivar amounts for almost 80 % of all banana exports, which was selected for taste but also for durable long-distance international transport.

Whilst most pests gain resistance to plant defense mechanisms in time, Cavendish bananas do not have the geene pool to allow them to keep on top of that. What's worse, pests also gain resistance to pesticides. 

Towards the end of 2013, IBIS has picked up an increased number of alerts and articles from the web, which pointed to the fact that there is an unusual high number of issues affecting the banana crops. Amongst them, Black Sigatoka disease ( produced by Mycosphaerella fijiensis), The Panama Disease (produced by Fusarium oxysporum), scale insects and milibugs which are vectors of transmission for these diseases.

In December 2013, Costa Rica (the world's 10 banana exporter) declared a phytosanitary emergency, which will last a year, to combat the pests transmitting Black Sigatoka. Another fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense, which is deadly to Cavendish, has reached plants in Mozambique and Jordan. Until now it has only affected crops in Southeast Asia and Australia. (Specifically  Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and China.). According to the journal Nature, this is a reason of worry, being the first intercontinental spread report. Researchers fear the fungus will soon reach Latin America, which grows the majority of the world's bananas. Some sources indicate also that the recent events could have also been triggered by the climate change.

Whilst scientists are trying to engineer bananas with superior pest and disease resistance (including the Gros Michael variety) little progress has been made as yet. However the losses seem to have stirred the international world. Currently, world's biggest banana producer is India, followed by Latin America, which also dominates the international trade.

Will 2014 see a decline in the production of banana? How will this affect the world trade?

December 2015. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that the US$36 billion global banana industry, which serves as the only source of incomes for some 400 million people around the world is currently under threat due to a fungal disease that is affecting production. It was estimated by the agency and its partner that US$47 million will be needed to undertake the new and deadly Tropical Race 4 (TR4) strain of Fusarium wilt disease. The quoted cost will also be used to provide swift on-the-ground assistance to countries facing new outbreaks.



Monocultures offer the perfect conditions for the spreading of pests and diseases. In this respect, bananas are no different from any other crop.

Back in the 50s, the most common banana variety, Gros Michel, was completely wiped-out by what was known as Panama disease. This disease was caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum, also called fusarium wilt. Gros Michel was replaced by a resistant southern Chinese variety called Cavendish.

For the last thirty years a new disease has been becoming more and more widespread. The disease is called Black Sigatoka. Right now, the only way to treat this new disease is by applying massive doses of fungicides - a practice which is losing effectiveness as the fungus is becoming more resistant. In several regions the disease can cut banana yield in half, leading farmers to spray their plantations up to fifty times a year. This practice endangers the environment and the health of plantation workers.

Black Sigatoka isn't only threatening the Cavendish bananas that are popular in Europe and North America. It also affects local varieties that are popular in Asia, Africa and Latin America. These include starchy plantains, prepared similarly to potatoes, which are a staple food in many poorer communities in the Third World.

Disease defence: Bananas lack genetic diversity

Monocultures and Black Sigatoka aren't the only reasons why bananas are in trouble. Cultivated bananas are known as pathenocarpic, which means they can form fruit without ever having been fertilised. Rather than forming seeds, bananas reproduce by forming side-shoots and suckers. This means that the gene pool of bananas never really changes over the generations. This is a major restriction to breeding possibilities: all efforts to introduce fungus resistance to Cavendish bananas through conventional breeding methods have failed.

Many banana producers hope to save Cavendish bananas with the help of genetic engineering. This technique could finally be able to provide popular Cavendish bananas with resistance to Black Sigatoka. 

__________________ What happened to the previous cultivar, the "Gros Michel" banana type  "A strain of the Fusarium oxysporum fungus was responsible for the demise of the precursor to the Cavendish, the Gros Michel banana. The Gros Michel was the main type of banana imported into the U.S. from the 19th century through the 1950s, when the fungus struck. Gros Michel has been described as tastier than the beloved Cavendish, but most present-day fruit lovers have never tasted of its glory. " 


The new threat: Black Sigatoka

Black Sigatoka is a disease affecting banana and plantain crops. It spread from Asia and reached the Carribean in 1991. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that without increased commitment to combat Black Sigatoka Disease, which has ravaged banana and plantain production in the Caribbean, vulnerable people could face food insecurity if the disease situation is allowed to further deteriorate.

This is all the more important since banana producing countries are facing another threat:  a new strain of Panama disease – Tropical Race 4. It was originally confined to East Asia, but recently there have been reports that it has been found on a banana farm in Jordan and a banana farm in Mozambique. In both cases, authorities say the disease has been isolated. It is suspected that it could spread further and eventually reach Latin America and the Caribbean just like many other diseases have done in the past.

Black Sigatoka does particularly well in hot and humid climates and often spreads due to informal trade among the islands. The disease first appears as narrow streaks and black spots, which, as they proliferate, can eventually blacken entire leaves of bananas and plantains, blocking photosynthesis. Banana bunches are smaller, as are the fruit, and due to premature ripening that can occur even while the fruit is still on the tree, the bananas are no longer suitable for export.

_________________________________ Costa Rica Emergency (2013)

Bananas are an important part of the country’s agricultural business, which makes the pest problem such a big deal. In fact, the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry’s State Phytosanitary Services recently declared a national emergency for Costa Rica’s most important export.

According to The Tico Times, folks who make their living growing bananas are presently squaring off against legions of “mealybugs and scale insects” that are effectively destroying their crops. Since the pesky invaders cause unsightly blemishes to appear on bananas, some importers might turn their noses up at the goods.

Costa Rica has declared a state of phytosanitary emergency in response to a spread of pest populations that is threatening the country’s banana farms. The Ministry of Agriculture’s State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) said Boisduval scale and banana mealybugs infestations affected 24,000ha of plantations in the country’s Atlantic region from Talamanca to Sarapiqui.

Although the damage inflicted by these pests is largely cosmetic, resulting in spots on the banana fingers, growers fear their fruit will be rejected in packhouses.

“The biggest risk is that our exports will be restricted, shipments returned and markets closed, which will have serious repercussions on the industry and affect the country’s commercial standing,” SFE service director Magda González said.

The state of emergency, which will last for a year, allows the authorities to increase imports of bags of Bifenthrin and Buprofezin which help manage the effects of the infestation. The mitigation strategy also includes integrated management and biological pest control measures, SFE said.

Dec 2013



Panama Disease 

a workshop will be held in Davao City, Philippines, on February 6-7 (Thu.-Fri.), 2014, on the theme, "Can the spread of Panama disease in banana be managed? Finding multi-level solutions for a global problem". The workshop will bring together people from the private and public sectors, farmers' organisations and nongovernment organisations, and research institutions.

Some experts have blamed climate change, with warmer temperatures and changing rain patterns, for the explosion in the bug population.

Magda Gonzalez from Costa Rica's Phytosanitary Service told Reuters up to 20 percent of Costa Rica's banana crop could be affected.

"At the moment, the problem that we have is that the two plagues are distributed practically across the entire (agricultural) sector where there is banana. That's one thing. This started as a little point in La Estrella Valley and from there they dispersed towards other areas. At the moment, it's said that suppliers could reject 20% of the fruit," she said.

Status: Potential
Start date:
Last update: 2016-05-13