Food safety is a topic of concern for the world and contributes greatly to community health. With the integrated approach of “One Health”, it has become evident that in order to achieve optimal health for humans, animals and the environment, focus has to be shifted to consider these three different areas as interconnected and beneficial to one another. The One Health approach thus brings together members of various disciplines to work together towards a healthier planet. Ensuring a high level of control when it comes to food, feed, animal health and welfare, as well as plant health, has long been a priority of the European Commission and one of the reasons behind its launch of the Better Training for Safer Food (BTSF) training programmes back in 2006. The latest of the BTSF contract to be awarded to AETS is for the organisation and implementation of training activities on the risk assessment of microorganisms used as pesticides or biocides. AETS will organise and implement a total of 6 three-day training courses focused on the risk assessment of microorganisms used as plant protection products and biocidal products. The courses will be held in Brussels – Belgium, Valencia – Spain, Sofia – Bulgaria, Trim – Ireland and Riga – Latvia.
The aim of the training is to assist in the development of expertise with regard to risk assessment methodologies for microorganisms to be used in biocidal and plant protection products, such as pesticides and biocides. The project shall, as far as possible, also aim to harmonise the procedures related with evaluating and authorising such microorganisms within the EU.
The training will be addressed to authorities in EU Member States involved in risk assessments and decision making of active substances and plant protection and/or biocidal products in the context of the EU regulations. During the first phase (2 years) the expected attendance is approximately 35 people for each training session (6 sessions in total) with a total of 210 participants for the entire training programme.
A well-known example of a microorganism used as plant protection product is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). It occurs naturally in the gut of various types of caterpillars, of moths and butterflies, as well on leaf surfaces, aquatic environments, animal faeces, insect-rich environments, and flour mills and grain storage facilities. It has also been observed to parasitise other moths. During sporulation, many Bt strains produce crystal proteins that have insecticidal action. This has led to their use as insecticides and, more recently, to genetically modify crops using Bt genes, such as Bt corn. Spores and crystalline insecticidal proteins produced by Bt have been used to control insect pests since the 1920s and are often applied as liquid sprays. They are now used as specific insecticides under trade names such as DiPel and Thuricide.