The projects aim to harmonise and validate (including through ring trials) existing and new protocols for the detection and quantification of pathogens and other factors of concern for the health of plants and terrestrial animals, and correlates of infection/immunity. Work will build on existing knowledge and resources, and support the further development of promising existing protocols to deliver close-to-market end-products, including swift, portable tools for field testing. Cooperation among stakeholders is encouraged to ensure the use of generic technologies for a broader spectrum of organisms. There should be liaison with EU and international reference and standardisation bodies. As regards livestock, proposals should contribute as appropriate to the objectives of the STAR-IDAZ[[http://www.star-idaz.net/]] international research consortium (see SFS-12-2016). Projects should take due account of dissemination to relevant stakeholders to facilitate the uptake of results.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Individual proposals should focus on either plants or animals. Funding will allow for support for at least one project relating to plants and one to animals.
The simple, swift and reliable detection, accurate identification and proper quantification of pathogens and other factors affecting plant and animal health, including zoonotic agents, and correlates of infection (e.g. host-response biomarkers) and/or immunity are critical for the monitoring and control of their introduction or spread. These tools are essential to avoid or reduce costs to the economy, trade disruptions and sometimes even human health risks. The methods are used not only by competent authorities (i.e. the national authorities responsible for organising official controls), but also by private laboratories or directly by veterinarians at the point of care, practitioners and business operators.
In recent years, most research efforts have focused on the developing high throughput, generic, quick and cheap methods, a number of which have been validated on an intra-laboratory basis or through limited ring trials. Before they are used outside research laboratories, these methods often have to undergo additional testing, e.g. further ring tests, development of reference materials, harmonisation or adaptation for implementation in field conditions (sampling methods, multi-targeting, pen-side tests, mobile analysis).
Projects outputs will result in:
- validated protocols for the detection and quantification of pathogens and correlates of infection/immunity;
- support for plant and animal health policies in the form of validated protocols to be used by competent authorities and reference laboratories;
- the bringing to the market of end-products, such as swift, portable tools for field-testing by veterinarians, practitioners and business operators.
More generally and in the longer term, the outputs will support the improvement of animal/plant health and food safety, thus contributing to the sustainability and competitiveness of the agri-food sectors.