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Plant Protection Today - PPQ's Plant Pest Risk Analysis Ensures Science-Based Decision Making

PPQ's Plant Pest Risk Analysis Ensures Science-Based Decision Making
February 22, 2022
(Cover Photo by Olivier Le Moal -

Learn About a Global Leader in Plant Health Risk Analysis

By Sharon Lucik PPRA produces hundreds of risk analyses and technical reports every year.

USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program continues its Science and Technology (S&T) laboratory article series by highlighting the the Plant Pest Risk Analysis (PPRA) unit, formerly known as Plant Epidemiology and Risk Analysis Laboratory, in Raleigh, NC. As a global leader in plant health risk analysis, PPRA facilitates safe trade and supports science-based safeguarding decisions within PPQ and around the world.

“PPRA’s diverse workforce possesses broad-ranging subject matter expertise and an unwavering commitment to quality, integrity, and customer service,” said PPRA Director Heike Meissner. “Striving for excellence, PPRA works in full partnership with its customers and stakeholders to provide answers, develop solutions, and bridge the gap between science and decision making.”

 PPRA’s key outputs include:

  • Commodity risk assessments for agricultural imports. Risk assessments determine which pests are likely to be associated with a specific commodity and evaluate the risk presented by these pests. PPQ uses the risk assessments to develop entry requirements for the commodities, thereby ensuring safe trade.

  • Pest lists and technical documents to help resolve phytosanitary barriers for U.S. agricultural exports. PPQ uses this information to open, expand, and maintain export markets.

  • Objective Prioritization of Exotic Pests. PPRA applies a validated statistical model to evaluate the relative PPRA develops pest models and generates tens of thousands of maps every year to help PPQ plan survey and response activities. importance of exotic pests. This enables PPQ to plan ahead and allocate resources based on risk.

  • New Pest Response Guidelines. These documents are developed for high-priority pest threats to enable a quick PPQ response if the pests should be detected in the United States.

  • New Pest Advisory Group reports. These reports provide crucial information about newly detected pests and assesses their economic impact potential.

  • Geospatial models. These models help forecast pest spread, determine areas suitable for pest establishment, and predict time of pest presence. This information helps PPQ plan surveys, response actions, and domestic program activities.

  • Economic analyses. These documents evaluate the effectiveness and economic benefits of pest programs or program activities to help PPQ make smart resource allocation decisions.

  • International harmonization. PPRA staff is involved in projects of the North American Plant Protection Organization, the International Plant Protection Convention, and several other international organizations and institutions to help develop harmonized safeguarding approaches across the globe. PPRA also provides risk analysis training to other national plant protection organizations.

When developing their rigorously researched documents, staff can count on the support of PPRA librarian Lucy Reid, who manages one of the world’s best collections of plant quarantine-related sources, including many materials that cannot be obtained anywhere else.

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