Can there be a common, risk-based framework for decisions around live insect trade?


M.M. Quinlan, J.D. Mumford, M.Q. Benedict, F. Wäckers, C.F. Oliva, M. Wohlfarter, G. Smagghe, E. Vila, J. Klapwijk, A. Michaelakis, C.M. Collins, J. Prudhomme, G. Torres, F. Diaz, L. Saul-Gershenz, K. Cook, A. Verghese & P. Sreerama Kumar

A network of scientists involved in shipment of live insects has met and generated a series of articles on issues related to live insect transport. The network is diverse, covering large-scale commercial interests, government operated area-wide control programmes, biomedical research and many smaller applications, in research, education and private uses. Many insect species have a record of safe transport, pose minimal risks and are shipped frequently between countries. The routine shipments of the most frequently used insect model organism for biomedical research, Drosophila melanogaster, is an example. Successful largescale shipments from commercial biocontrol and pollinator suppliers also demonstrate precedents for low-risk shipment categories, delivered in large volumes to high quality standards. Decision makers need access to more information (publications or official papers) which details actual risks from the insects themselves or their possible contaminants, and should propose proportionate levels of management. There may be harm to source environments when insects are collected directly from the wild, and there may be harm to receiving environments. Several risk frameworks include insects and various international coordinating bodies, with experience of guidance on relevant risks, exist. All stakeholders would benefit from an integrated overview of guidance for insect shipping, with reference to types of risk and categories of magnitude, without trying for a single approach requiring universal agreement. Proposals for managing uncertainty and lack of data for smaller or infrequent shipments, for example, must not disrupt trade in large volumes of live insects, which are already supporting strategic objectives in several sectors.

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