JIS News

As Jamaica seeks to expand its trade in agricultural produce globally, it is paramount that steps be taken to further comply with the exacting international food safety regulations, Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, has emphasised.
The Minister was addressing participants at the third Regional Workshop for the review of Draft International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures at Hotel Four Seasons in Kingston today (August 15).
Mr. Clarke said that whilst the observance of compliance procedures would be rigorous, it was important that all stops be pulled, as “consumers worldwide are demanding safe foods that are free from harmful substances”, he also acknowledged that it would be a “major challenge for developed as well as developing countries”.
Despite the challenges, Minister Clarke implored food safety stakeholders at the workshop to accord high priority to such details as the minimum allowed pesticide residue on local food crops, proper labelling of chemicals used in combating plant pests and diseases, as well as the establishment of areas of low pest prevalence, as “these were issues which are critical to our health”.
These issues which the Minister highlighted as points of priority, are high on the workshop’s agenda.Phytosanitary regulations are government regulations that restrict or prohibit the importation and marketing of certain plant species, or products of these plants, so as to prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests or pathogens that these plants may be carrying.
Meanwhile, the Minister lauded the representatives from Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Italy and Canada for their emphasis on food safety regulations without pressure from the international bodies, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
He pointed out that currently, all the Caribbean territories at the workshop were signatories to the International Plant Protection Convention, which establishes the basic rules for food safety in agricultural production.
Notwithstanding this, Minister Clarke implored them to acknowledge their “obligation to comply with their requirements”, given that in order to trade both inter-regionally and with major trading partners, such as the European Union, United States and Canada, “these standards must be met”.
The FAO Officer in Rome, Italy, Dr. Jeffery Jones informed that a meeting of the Standards Committee of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures would be convened in September, during which suggestions emanating from the Jamaica workshop between today and August 19, would be considered for inclusion in international guidelines on food safety in CARICOM.

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