Public Health Pests a Major Focus of Global Pest Summit

Public Health Pests a Major Focus of Global Pest Summit

Delegates from 34 countries gathered in Portugal for the third-ever international pest control meeting.

June 12, 2018
Edited by the PCT Staff

Editor’s note: Delegates from 34 countries were represented at the third Global Summit of Pest Management Services for Public Health and Food Safety in Portugal. Helen Riby, associate editor and publisher of UK-based Pest magazine provided the following recap for PCT.

CASCAIS, Portugal — The third Global Summit of Pest Management Services for Public Health &Food Safety, which ran from June 4-6, attracted its biggest ever audience. A total of 300 attendees made their way to the Portuguese resort of Cascais, just 25 minutes around the coast from the capital, Lisbon. There were delegates from five continents – Europe, Asia, Australasia, Africa and the Americas. In total 34 countries were represented. 

The North American contingent comprised 33 delegates including the current president of NPMA, Bryan Cooksey, and the soon-to-be president, Dennis Jenkins from Dallas, Texas-based ABC Home & Commercial Services. There was a Chinese delegation some 20 strong. As might be expected the majority of the audience was from Europe with 188 delegates. 

Previous events – in New York in 2017 and in France in 2015 – have focused on pest management and food safety but this time there was much more emphasis on public health and, in particular, mosquitoes. 

Not that food safety was ignored. Frank Varga from Nestle and Justyna Kostarczyk from the Metro Group, an international wholesale ‘cash and carry’ business based in Germany, kicked off proceedings. Both presentations examined how their respective companies manage their businesses with the aim of achieving zero-pests. Both advocated strong relationships between PMPs and their food industry customers as key and both would welcome more consistent global pest management servicing standards to support food safety.

NPMA’s Jim Fredericks kept things moving throughout, introducing speakers and making sure questions from the floor were answered. He explained that as well as public health the second focus of the meeting was innovation.

Among the many speakers on mosquitoes and the vector-borne diseases they spread was Fedros Okumu from the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania. He asked a fundamental question: How innovative is malaria mosquito control? The answer he suggested was not very. Bed nets have been used for as long as humans have lived in closed dwellings in Africa and they are still the best defense. Nets are good but new tools are needed. His institute is working on many simple innovative techniques including for example insecticide impregnated sandals to protect people when they are not under bed nets. The prototypes have had great results but investment is needed. “We are looking for partners to invest,” he said.

With an eye towards innovation Rueben Benno from Lokimica Laboratories looked at the potential for unmanned vehicles – drones – for pest mapping and control and Alfie Treleven, Sprague Pest Solutions, ran through the way his company uses technology in its training and motivational programs as well for remote sensing device management, paperless reporting and to monitor overall performance. The company has its own social sharing network for employees to add field notes and share problems and solutions. “Millenials like to share on social media and record and upload podcasts, you have to allow them time to do it,” he said.

The session looking at how the industry needs to prepare for change included a paper by David Andreu from Goldservice, Spain. He highlighted the paradox that general public customers want to communicate in an impersonal way (email, text, social media) at a time to suit themselves and yet they are demanding ever more personalized service. Commercial clients on the other hand fall into two groups. One group wants a low cost standardized automated service whereas the other wants an increasingly personalized service.

Dennis Jenkins agreed that customers want service now. He said: “Amazon has taught people they should expect it now. Uberization of pest control means call today, get serviced today, every time. Five minutes early is on time, one time is late and anything else is unacceptable.”

The final session of the first day took a much wider perspective. It examined the need for a harmonized global approach to pest management standards looking at the politics and outside pressures on our industry and introducing the concept of soft legislation through public private partnerships. 

Robert Madelin, now a consultant, but formerly the Director General of the European Commission’s Consumer & Health Directorate, explored the ways in which the pest management industry can work with allies, partners and sponsors to ensure it is not regulated out of business. His paper looked at the opportunities the industry has to be accepted as an ethical business and therefore subjected to a light regulatory touch. He highlighted the Global Sustainable Development goals as particularly fertile ground for legitimizing out industry.

On day two, as well as celebrating World Pest Day, there was a fascinating insight into the likely impact of climate change from Dr Roberto Pereira from the University of Florida. The bad news is (or is it good for the pest management industry?) insect pest are largely going to be winners as temperatures rise and weather related disasters increase. 

The final session went around the world in 80 minutes with representatives from South America, North America, Africa, Australia, China and Europe giving a summary of the challenges and opportunities they face. This revealed some similarities such as the average number of employees in a pest management servicing company in South America is just 5 – and that’s very similar to Europe. The regulatory framework however is much more fragmented with each country in South ame5ica having its own regulation and much of this being very old. Training also varies but every company much have a university educated technical director. Whilst this sounds excellent the degree held is not specified. Only around 25% of companies are members of a trade association. 

This contrasts with Australia, where 85% are members. The Australian industry also works to a number of recognized Codes of Practice and customers are demanding an ever more professionalized service. 

The US market is probably the most developed with great strides having been made in the last 20 years resulting in the industry being recognize as providing a professional service and more people abandoning the DIY approach to appoint a servicing professional. 

In Europe the production of the European Standard and the audited CEPA certified system is gathering pace and now includes 456 companies. Bertrand Montmoreau pointed out that CEPA certified is open to all companies – not just those that operate in Europe.

The African and Chinese markets are both fast growing but face a number of challenges not least the low barrier to entry and, more especially in Africa, the complete lack of policing. 

The Global Summit was jointly organized by the Confederation of European Pest Management Associations (CEPA) and the NPMA with generous sponsorship from key sponsors: Bayer; silver sponsors: the BL Group and bronze sponsors: Babolna Bio, Edialux, IPM Square, Mylva and Plastdiversity. In a social and environmentally responsible move, there were no giveaways for delegates. Instead a donation was made on behalf of each attendee to UNICEF to support the thousands of babies with congenital defects caused by the Zika virus.