Plants form the basis of our food chain, for without the cultivation of crops there would be neither food for humans nor feed for animals. Plants are also a key element of the environment in which we live and lead our everyday lives. For this reason, outbreaks of plant diseases and pests can have devastating effects on the quality of our lives and on the economy. Particularly dangerous harmful organisms can threaten the livelihoods of agricultural and horticultural producers and adversely affect the quality and prices of our food and the condition and functions of our forests and parks.
Destructive plant pests and diseases can take a wide variety of forms, such as insects or bacteria, fungi or viruses. For example, the bacterial disease fireblight (Erwinia amylovora) has caused severe damage to fruit production in Switzerland over the past 30 years. In recent years, outbreaks of the Asian long-horned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), in particular, have posed a major threat to forests. In the coming years, the introduction and spread of new, particularly dangerous harmful organisms – e.g. the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) or the pine wood nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus) – could have serious economic, social and environmental impacts. It is therefore essential to take effective measures as rapidly as possible to prevent harmful organisms from entering Switzerland, or to eradicate them as soon as they are detected in this country.
Certain harmful organisms which are not yet present in Switzerland or only occur locally are subject to a general notification obligation.