The use of non-native invertebrate biological control agents (IBCAs) in Europe is not covered by a Directive equivalent to that which regulates biocontrol with microorganisms or the genetic modification of crop plants. Regulation is at the discretion of individual member states and largely derived from national legislation on pesticides, plant health or environmental protection. There is no EU country with regulation of IBCAs that requires information on the microbial symbiont content of candidate species, and in the absence of horizontal transfer under natural conditions, this policy is unlikely to change. Although there have been few reported negative effects linked to the import and release of IBCAs, a number of countries have introduced or revised their regulatory frameworks in recent years. This article reviews major developments in the regulation and environmental risk assessment (ERA) of IBCAs in Europe over the last 10 years including: the fragmented pattern of regulation between countries, variation in information requirements for release licences, format and methods of ERA for different taxonomic groups of IBCAs, use and updating of the European Plant Protection Organisation Positive List, sources of expert advice on ERA data, communication between IBCA regulators, and options for the provision of international leadership to coordinate regulatory and ERA-related issues with IBCA-based biocontrol in Europe.
- biological control
- environmental risk assessment