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GlobalWG 5.2 – Regulation and International Trade


WG6-2Chair: Peter Phillips
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Research Focus and Objectives

International trade can benefit from barcoding technology to give precise identification to the species level of traded commodities, as well as preserving identity chains where close substitutes or counterfeits disrupt economics and trust between partners. Barcoding is relevant in these respects to trade associated with forestry, capture and culture fisheries, terrestrial agriculture including commodity crops, fruits and food animals.

In addition to the authentication and traceability functions, barcoding can also serve an important role in the identification and surveillance of pests. It may even be possible to use barcoding technology for identity preservation systems traded commodities such as crops where adventitious presence of un-approved varieties threatens trade and brings the risk of economic loss.

The GE3LS team will focus on how barcode technology can become the international technological standard in trade. The goal is to develop an international network to set barcoding standards and protocols to substitute for the current dependency on large specimen collections and taxonomists for product and pest identification.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recommended in 2004 that a global network of biological resource centers be developed. IBOL can virtually unite and harmonize diverse collections under BOLD or GenBank. The barcode approach is consistent with International Standards for Phytosanitary Meaures (ISPM No. 27) which provides for diagnostic protocols for regulated pests (Floyd et al. 2010) and can be used globally to identify quarantine pests. Already there are discussions between the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPCC) regarding the potential for use of barcoding as an international technological standard, but these discussions require policy development facilitated by GE3LS research.

Evidence of international uptake of barcoding for the regulation of trade already exists. For example, the US Food and Drug Administration uses barcoding for the identification of seafood. The Environmental Protection Agency uses barcoding to monitor macrobenthic freshwater invertebrates, and the US Department of Agriculture and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service use barcoding to identify pests.

New Zealand, similarly, uses barcoding for the identification of invasive species. In Canada, the BOLD project already has extensive linkages with Health Canada, Parks Canada and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. Furthermore, a working group of science and technology Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADMs) who expressed interest in options for networked governance of trade using barcoding has been established.

Milestones and Deliverables

The GE3LS team will:
1. Conduct an environmental scan to determine which technological standards are currently, or are soon to be, in place for monitoring trade;
2. Compare the current state of knowledge with the OECD biological resource centres framework;
3. Analyse Canadian regulations, particularly as they regulations relate to international bodies such as the OECD, the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius, and the WTO more generally; and
4. With the input of the ADM group, and in conjunction with the IPPC, propose standards for using barcoding as a regulatory tool for international trade.

Research Team

Peter Phillips, University of Saskatchewan
iBOL designate
Andrew Mitchell, Australian Museum
Invited members
Iain Gillespie, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Shakeel Bhatti, International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, FAO
Irene Hoffmann, Animal Production Service, FAO