The tomato leaf miner moth Tuta Absoluta will probably cause damage to the Norwegian tomato industry if control measures are not taken. The probability of crop loss and increased use of chemical and biological pesticides is high.
This is the key message in an assessment made by the Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) on the request by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.
VKM has evaluated the consequences for Norwegian tomato production if the Norwegian Food Safety Authority does not take measures to prevent Tuta absoluta from establish in Norway.
Tuta absoluta is a major pest in all countries where it has been established, and crop losses between 50 – 100 procent have been reported from South America and Spain. In Norway, Tuta absoluta was detected for the first time in April 2017, in a tomato nursery in Klepp municipality, Rogaland County. Since then, the pest has been detected in three additional greenhouses in close proximity to the first outbreak.
The four main questions
The VKM was asked to 1) estimate the damage to the Norwegian tomato industry if the outbreak is not eradicated, 2) Other detrimental impacts, 3) assess the uncertainties related to the questions above and 4) assess the likelihood of a new introductions to Norwegian tomato nurseries due to the imports of plants and fruits.
The VKM concludes that if no precise control measures are applied against Tuta absoluta, damage to the Norwegian tomato production industry is expected to be high with a low uncertainty. The estimated yield losses in Norway are expected to be about 1 to 5 procent. However, this estimation is assessed with a high uncertainty.
The increase in chemical as well as biological pesticide application is assessed to be high, with low uncertainty. The number of insecticide applications are expected to be increased fourfold. The use of predatory bugs (Macrolophus pygmaeus) as well as the use of pheromone traps for monitoring, are both expected to be doubled. Moreover, the amount of mating disruption pheromone dispensers are going to be considerable. All estimated amounts are assessed with a high uncertainty.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is in the process of doing a cost-benefit analysis of the economy in a potential eradication of the Tuta absoluta outbreaks in Rogaland County. Surveillance has been commenced to investigate the possibility of further spread.
In anticipation of the results of the survey, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority wishes to initiate the process of obtaining basic data and risk assessments that are needed to performa cost-benefit analysis. This report is part of that work.
The assessment was conducted by the VKM´s panel on planthealth.
Foto: Patrick Clement