REPORT on the proposal for a Council Directive on the control of Pseudomonas solanacearum (Smith) Smith (COM(97)0015 - C4-0066/97 - 97/0025(CNS))

26 November 1997

Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
Rapporteur: Mrs Encarnación Redondo Jiménez

By letter of 14 February 1997 the Council consulted Parliament, pursuant to Article 43 of the EC Treaty, on the proposal for a Council Directive on the control of Pseudomonas solanacearum (Smith) Smith.

At the sitting of {19/02/97}19 February 1997 the President of Parliament announced that he had referred this proposal to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development as the committee responsible.

At its meeting of {19/03/97}19 March 1997 the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development appointed Mrs Redondo Jiménez rapporteur.

It considered the Commission proposal and the draft report at its meeting of 25 and 26 November 1997.

At the latter meeting it adopted the draft legislative resolution unanimously.

The following were present for the vote: Colino Salamanca, chairman; Graefe zu Baringdorf, vicechairman; Redondo Jiménez, rapporteur; Anttila, Böge (for Ebner), Campos, Chesa, Ephremidis (for Querbes), Fantuzzi, Filippi, Fraga Estévez, Funk, Garot, Gillis, Goepel, Görlach, Hardstaff, Iversen, Jové Peres, Keppelhoff-Wiechert, Kindermann, Klaß (for Mayer), Lambraki, Lulling (for Schierhuber), Mulder, Otila (for Cunha), des Places, Provan (for Dimitrakopoulos), Rehder, Santini, Sonneveld, Sturdy and Wilson,

The report was tabled on 26 November 1997.

The deadline for tabling amendments is 12 noon on 10 December 1997.

A LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL - DRAFT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Proposal for a Council Directive on the control of Pseudomonas solanacearum (Smith) Smith (COM(97)0015 - C4-0066/97 - 97/0025(CNS))

The proposal is approved with the following amendments:

Text proposed by the Commission[1]

Amendments by Parliament

(Amendment 1)

Recital 7

Whereas the measures have to take into account that systematic official surveys are necessary to locate the pathogen; whereas such surveys should include inspection procedures and, where appropriate, given that under certain environmental circumstances the disease can remain latent and unobserved both in the growing crop of tomatoes and potatoes and in stored potato tubers, should include sampling and testing procedures; whereas spread of the pathogen within the growing crop is not the most important factor, but whereas the pathogen can spread by surface water and certain associated wild solanaceous

Whereas the measures have to take into account that systematic official surveys are necessary to locate the pathogen; whereas such surveys should include inspection procedures and, where appropriate, given that under certain environmental circumstances the disease can remain latent and unobserved both in the growing crop of tomatoes and potatoes and in stored potato tubers, should include sampling and testing procedures; whereas spread of the pathogen within the growing crop is not the most important factor, but whereas the pathogen can spread by surface water and certain associated wild solanaceous

plants, and therefore the irrigation of potato and tomato crops using contaminated water appears to pose a risk for infection of such crops; whereas also the pathogen can exist through the winter in self-sown (volunteer) potato and tomato plants and these may be a source of infection being carried from one season to the next; whereas the pathogen is spread also by the contamination of potatoes or tomatoes through contact with infected potatoes or tomatoes and through contact with planting, harvesting and handling equipment or transport and storage containers which have become contaminated with the organisms by previous contact with infected potatoes or tomatoes; whereas spread of the pathogen can be reduced or prevented by decontamination of such objects; whereas any such contamination of seed potatoes poses a major risk for the spread of the pathogen; similarly the latent infection of seed potatoes poses a major risk for the spread of the pathogen and this can be prevented only by the use of seed potatoes produced in an officially approved programme whereby seed potatoes have been tested and found free from infection;

plants, and therefore the irrigation of potato and tomato crops using contaminated water appears to pose a risk for infection of such crops; whereas also the pathogen can exist through the winter in self-sown (volunteer) potato and tomato plants and these may be a source of infection being carried from one season to the next; whereas the pathogen is spread also by the contamination of potatoes through contact with infected potatoes and through contact with planting, harvesting and handling equipment or transport and storage containers which have become contaminated with the organisms by previous contact with infected potatoes; whereas spread of the pathogen can be reduced or prevented by decontamination of such objects; whereas any such contamination of seed potatoes poses a major risk for the spread of the pathogen; similarly the latent infection of seed potatoes poses a major risk for the spread of the pathogen and this can be prevented only by the use of seed potatoes produced in an officially approved programme whereby seed potatoes have been tested and found free from infection;

(Amendment 2)

Article 4(2)(c)

(c) introduce appropriate additional precautionary measures based on the level of estimated risk, particularly in relation to production of the listed plant material, in order to prevent any spread of the organism.

(c) introduce appropriate additional precautionary measures based on the level of estimated risk, particularly in relation to production of the listed plant material and the movement of seed potato lots other than those referred to in subparagraph (a), if produced at the place of production from which the samples referred to in the afore-mentioned subparagraph (a) have been taken, in order to prevent any spread of the organism.

(Amendment 3)

Article 4(3)

3. In those cases of suspected occurrence where there is a risk of contamination of the listed plant material or surface water in another Member State(s), the Member State in which the suspected occurrence has been reported shall immediately notify, according to the risk identified, the details of the said suspected occurrence to the other Member State(s) concerned.

3. In those cases of suspected occurrence where there is a risk of contamination of the listed plant material or surface water in another Member State(s), the Member State in which the suspected occurrence has been reported shall immediately notify, according to the risk identified, the details of the said suspected occurrence to the other Member State(s) concerned, which shall extend the necessary assistance. Member States thus notified shall take preventive measures in accordance with paragraph 2(c) and any other appropriate measures in accordance with paragraphs 1 and 2.

(Amendment 4)

Article 5(2), second subparagraph

The details of this notification shall be confidential. They may be submitted to the Committee.

The details of this notification shall be confidential. They may be submitted to the Committee, which shall treat them as confidential.

(Amendment 5)

Article 10, second paragraph

The additional measures mentioned in the first subparagraph may include the prescription that only seed potatoes or tomatoes may be planted that are either officially certified or officially inspected to meet the required plant health standards. The latter may apply in particular in cases where farmers are authorized to use, on their own holding, seed potatoes or tomatoes which they have obtained from their own harvest and in other cases where ownproduced seed potatoes or tomatoes are planted.

deleted

(Amendment 6)

Article 12(1)

1. Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provision (sic) necessary to comply with this Directive with effect from 1 July 1997. They shall forthwith inform the Commission thereof.

1. Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provision (sic) necessary to comply with this Directive with effect from 1 March 1998. They shall forthwith inform the Commission thereof.

(Amendment 7)

Annex I, Section I, third phrase

Plants, other than seeds, of Lycopersicon lycopersicum (L.) Karsten ex Farw. Tomato

Plants, other than seeds and fruits of Lycopersicon lycopersicum (L.) Karsten ex Farw. Tomato

(Amendment 8)

Annex I, Section II, point 1(ii)

(ii) in the case of tomato:

(ii) in the case of tomato:

- visual inspection of the growing crop at appropriate times,

- visual inspection, at appropriate times, of at least the growing crop of plants to be replanted for commercial uses.

and,

- in the case of tomato crops grown for seed production and where appropriate for other tomato crops, sampling for official or officially supervised laboratory testing, using the method set out in Annex II for the diagnosis, detection and identification of the organism.

(Amendment 9)

Annex I, Section II, point 2(ii)

(ii) in the case of surveys on tomatoes:

(ii) in the case of surveys of at least the growing crop of tomato plants to be replanted for commercial uses:

- estimated total area grown, in hectares, of outdoor crops and of crops grown under protection,

- estimated total quantity of plants,

- stratification by seed and fruit production and, where appropriate, region,

- number of visual inspections;

- number and timing of samples taken for testing,

- number of visual inspections in the field,

- number (and size of sample) of visual inspections;

(Amendment 10)

Annex II

The method for the listed plant material referred to in Articles 4 and 5 shall be in accordance with Commission Decision 97/.../EC detailing an interim test scheme for the diagnosis, detection and identification of Pseudomonas solanacearum (Smith) Smith (not yet adopted by the Commission).

The method for the listed plant material referred to in Articles 4 and 5 shall be in accordance with Commission Decision 97/647/EC detailing an interim test scheme for the diagnosis, detection and identification of Pseudomonas solanacearum (Smith) Smith.(1)

(1) OJ L 273, 6.10.1997, p. 1.

(Amendment 11)

Annex VI, point 2(ii)

(ii) for tomato fruit,

deleted

- use of fruit for industrial processing and intended for direct and immediate delivery to a processing plant with appropriate waste disposal facilities, and disposal of plant debris including seed by appropriate means, or

- use of fruit for consumption and packed at sites with appropriate waste disposal facilities,

- some other use or disposal, provided that it is established that there is no identifiable risk of the organism spreading;

(Amendment 12)

Annex VI, point 4.1(a)(ii), first indent, second subindent

- the field shall be established and maintained during the first three years either, in bare fallow or, in cereals excluding maize or, in permanent pasture with frequent close cutting or intensive grazing or, as grass for seed production, followed by planting in the succeeding two years with non-host plants of the organism for which there is no identified risk of the organism surviving or spreading,

- the field shall be established and maintained during the first three years either, in bare fallow or, in cereals, depending on such risk as may have been determined, or, in permanent pasture with frequent close cutting or intensive grazing or, as grass for seed production, followed by planting in the succeeding two years with non-host plants of the organism for which there is no identified risk of the organism surviving or spreading,

(Amendment 13)

Annex VI, point 4.1(a)(ii), second indent, second subindent

- in the case of tomatoes, only tomato plants with an accompanying plant passport or plants raised from seed on the place of production and officially inspected and found free from the organism shall be planted,

deleted

Legislative resolution embodying Parliament's opinion on the proposal for a Council Directive on the control of Pseudomonas solanacearum (Smith) Smith (COM(97)0015 - C4-0066/97 - 97/0025(CNS))

(Consultation procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council, COM(97)0015 - 97/0025(CNS)[2],

- having been consulted by the Council pursuant to Article 43 of the EC Treaty (C4-0066/97),

- having regard to Rule 58 of its Rules of Procedure,

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A4-0370/97),

1. Approves the Commission proposal, subject to Parliament's amendments;

2. Calls on the Council to notify Parliament should it intend to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

3. Asks to be consulted again should the Council intend to make substantial modifications to the Commission proposal;

4. Instructs its President to forward this opinion to the Council and Commission.

  • [1] () OJ C 124, 21.4.1997, p. 12.
  • [2] () OJ C 124, 21.4.1997, p. 12.

B EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

I. BACKGROUND

Pseudomonas solanacearum (Smith) Smith, a harmful organism which attacks potatoes and tomatoes, is the pathogenic agent of bacterial potato rot disease (brown rot) and bacterial wilt in tomatoes.

Until recently, this organism was relatively rare in Europe and thought to be a problem peculiar to regions with a tropical, subtropical, or temperate climate. In the early 1990s, however, isolated cases of potato brown rot were recorded in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, and there were a number of bacterial wilt outbreaks in French tomatoes in 1994 and 1995.

In 1995 the Dutch plant health services discovered that some samples taken from the domestic potato crop were contaminated and confirmed to the Commission and the Member States that Pseudomonas solanacearum was the cause. The fact that the Netherlands is the main supplier of seed potatoes to the EU prompted the Commission to adopt Decision 95/506/EC - extended in 1996 - whereby Member States were authorized to adopt temporary additional measures in relation to the Netherlands, in line with Community safeguard measures, to prevent the spread of Pseudomonas solanacearum.[1]

Later, towards the end of 1995 and in 1996, some occurrences were recorded in Mediterranean countries, the organisms having been spread by contaminated Dutch seed potato consignments. The Commission therefore submitted a proposal for a Directive on the control of Pseudomonas solanacearum on 29 January 1997. A further, more recent Commission measure, Decision 97/647/EC adopted on 9 September 1997, details an interim test scheme for the diagnosis, detection, and identification of Pseudomonas solanacearum in potatoes.[2] The Commission nevertheless acknowledges that there are still difficulties in determining certain aspects of the epidemiology and biology of the organism, and that is why the test scheme is considered to be of an interim nature and research needs to continue.

II. THE COMMISSION PROPOSAL

The proposal for a Directive lays down a series of measures aimed at detecting and controlling disease and hence averting its spread on the Union's internal market. Systematic official surveys are accordingly to be conducted in order to locate the pathogen and prevent its possible spread by plant material at risk, wild solanaceous plants, and surface waters in which contamination is suspected. The proposal also assigns responsibilities to Member States, to be discharged when an occurrence has been detected, and specifies possible safeguards to be adopted on a Community-wide basis.

III. ASSESSMENT AND PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

Control of and measures to eradicate harmful organisms which attack crops have taken on new significance since the internal market has been in operation and border checks have been abolished.

However, given the general principle that compliance with plant health rules is deemed to be the responsibility of the country of origin, control and eradication measures and the appropriate protective guarantees have to be laid down at Community level when specific problems arise, on the understanding that such measures should not constitute arbitrary restrictions on free competition. The Commission proposal for a Directive meets the above need, and I therefore believe that, on the whole, it deserves to be approved by the EP, although, after considering the essentials, I think it necessary to propose some amendments relating to the following points:

1. The tomato should not be described as an independent disease-carrying agent, because, although tomato fruits can be contaminated by the bacterium, they do not transmit it. A set of amendments accordingly provides for tomatoes to be treated differently from potatoes, carriers in their own right.

2. Member States should be acquainted with the details of cases of contamination. The rapporteur consequently believes that the Standing Committee on Plant Health should be kept informed, without altering the confidential treatment of the information notified.

3. To complete the precautionary measures referred to in Article 4, their scope should be widened to include not only plant material, but also the movement of seed potato lots.

4. The legislative text needs to stipulate in stronger terms that Member States must work together as closely as possible when an occurrence is suspected and plant material or the surface waters of another Member State are in danger of contamination.

5. As regards the option of adopting additional stricter measures, the rapporteur shares the view expressed by most national representatives on the special Council working party on plant health, which has studied the proposal, namely that Member States should be allowed to apply more stringent measures to their own production, but these should not have to be spelt out as explicitly as in the Commission proposal, the provisions of which, couched in the present terms, could impose burdensome obligations on individual farmers. It is therefore being proposed that the second paragraph of Article 10 be deleted.

6. It is proposed to reverse the exclusion of maize, thus enabling it to be grown, like other cereals, in the first three years after disease has been detected, the reason being that maize permits the survival of strain 1 only, whereas the European variant corresponds to strain 3. Maize, moreover, constitutes a very special case because, according to scientific literature, it is effective in reducing strain 1 bacteria in contaminated soil in tropical countries.

  • [1] () OJ L 291, 6.12.1995.
  • [2] () OJ L 273, 6.10.1997.