The primary purpose of phytosanitation is to prevent known crop vulnerabilities from being manifested. This is done mainly by controlling the movement of plants and planting material. This movement might be local, involving a single farm; or regional, involving different areas within a country; or international, involving different countries.

Local phytosanitation can be very effective against soil-borne parasites, which are spread with planting material, or in soil on tractor wheels. It is effective because a single person, the farmer himself, controls all the imports and movements in his farm.

Regional control is usually ineffectual because it is not feasible to stop and search every vehicle moving from one area to another. In California, for example, every car travelling into the State is stopped and searched, and all fresh fruits and vegetables are confiscated. But most people flying into California are not searched, and they are merely requested to dump fruit and vegetables into special bins. The efficacy of this system is doubtful in the extreme.

International control can be very effective, because the international movement of goods and people is carefully controlled anyway. This control is improved when nations co-operate, with certificates of plant origin and plant health. This international control can be at its most effective in island nations, such as the United Kingdom, Madagascar, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, or Australia.

A distinction between hygiene and phytosanitation should be noted. Phytosanitation is concerned with preventing the introduction of parasites that are still absent from the importing area. Conversely, hygiene is concerned with preventing the introduction of parasites that are already present in the importing area. It involves the use of clean and healthy planting material, such as certified seed potatoes.

Chapter Four

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