Oral: When Science and Politics Collide: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Conducting research on strictly regulated quarantine pathogens and diseases - Huanglongbing, citrus canker, and citrus black spot
T. SCHUBERT (1) (1) Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services-Division Of Plant Industry, U.S.A.
All too frequently in recent times, severe exotic pathogens have emerged in new environments prompting regulatory responses that can make studying the organisms alone and in association with their host(s) complicated. Three examples in Florida citrus have arisen in the last 30 years (in chronological order canker, HLB and black spot), each affording opportunities to creatively adapt phytosanitary regulation and research to learn more about the disease while simultaneously working to prevent further damage where introduced or jeopardize pathogen-free areas elsewhere. Several principles are taking shape to help meet this dilemma, among them: 1) Trade in the commodity (fresh citrus fruit) has not proven that risky yet. Encroachment apparently happens by other means; 2) Political boundaries confound regulatory efforts that need to reflect biological realities; 3) Time sensitivity associated with most new outbreaks dictates swift and decisive action with adaptive flexibility built into the program; 4) Each stakeholder group (trading partners, producers, packers/shippers, scientists, and consumers) needs to understand as much as possible how a pathogen moves and behaves in various environments and what role each group plays in the regulatory actions necessary to minimize further damage. Effective communication is indispensable. 5) Research funding and facilities should proactively acknowledge and accommodate the unique circumstances accompanying an exotic introduction.