Plant Pathogens

Risk assessment and management guidelines for agriculture differ from human public health standards. Risk management for agriculture research is based on the potential economic impact of animal and plant morbidity, and mortality, and the trade implications of disease. Agricultural guidelines take this difference into account. Worker protection is important but great emphasis is placed on reducing the risk of agent escape into the environment. Containment requirements for these pathogens may also be specified in USDA permits, when required. Some plant pathogens are controlled by the Federal Select Agent Regulations.

Special federal permits may be required for importing, exporting and/or transporting human pathogen, animal pathogens, animals or animal products, plant pathogens or plant pests, and plants or plant products. Permit requirements should be verified well in advance of needing the material in question, because some permits can take 60‐180 days to receive.

The USDA, APHIS, Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Unit regulates the importation into the United States, and interstate transportation and possession, of organisms and vectors of pathogenic diseases of plants. The Code of Federal Regulations, in 7 CFR, §330.200, mandates that “No person shall knowingly move any plant pest into or through the United States from any place outside thereof, or interstate, or knowingly accept delivery of any plant pest so moving unless such movement is authorized under permit under this part and is made in accordance with the conditions therein and the provisions in this part”.

Experiments to genetically engineer plants by recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule methods, to use such plants for other experimental purposes (e.g., response to stress), to propagate such plants, or to use plants together with microorganisms or insects containing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules, may be conducted under the containment conditions described in the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules. The Guidelines may be found at: