Dr Robert Black
Part-time lecturer, Consultant in Biosecurity Law and Regulation
MA, LLM, PhD
Food and Markets Department
Natural Resources Institute
Senior Scientist/Principal Scientist at NRI 1990-2002
Research and Consultancy on plant pathology and plant quarantine
Programme Leader, MSc Natural Resources
Senior Lecturer in Department of Law 2002-2004
Reader in Biosecurity Law and Risk Assessment, Department of Law, 2004-2006 (prior to early retirement)
Socio-legal research on adoption of biosecurity (sanitary and phytosanitary) measures in developing countries
Programme Leader, LLM Biosecurity and Trade
Part-time lecturer, NRI 2011-present.
Research and consultancy on SPS in developing countries and emerging economies
Plant Pathologist, Overseas Development Administration, 1980-1989
Postings in Thailand, Belize, UK
Lecturer in Botany, University of West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, 1976-1979
Research on mycorrhizas
Research Assistant, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Leeds, 1975-1976
Research on mycorrhizas
Socio-legal Studies Association (previously)
Tropical Agriculture Association
British Society for Plant Pathology (ex officiio Board Member by virtue of journal editorship)
Statute Law Society
- Socio-legal research on adoption of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures in developing countries
- Legislative analysis of biosecurity/SPS legislation in developing countries
- Transition from Soviet standards system to SPS-based import controls in Former Soviet Union
Dr Robert Black's research background in plant disease diagnosis and control, assisted by front-line legal and regulatory experience in developing and transitional countries, has led to an in-depth understanding of the way that national legislation should meet the normative guidelines arising out of international trade law and normative standards for safe use of pesticides and other agrochemicals. Primary and secondary legislation that Black has drafted that is now in force includes:
- Amendments to the Pesticides Control Act 2002 (Belize) and statutory instruments under this Act
- Plant health component of Belize Agricultural Health Authority Act, Chapter 211
- Law on Plant Protection Products, No. 29 of 2005 (Macedonia),
- Law on Agrochemicals, No 27 of 2012 (Rwanda)
Additionally, he has drafted a Bill for a Law on the Protection of Plant Health that is currently before Parliament in Rwanda and a text for a Plant Health Act for the Seychelles has been incorporated into the Bill for Animal and Plant Biosecurity 2011 being considered in the Seychelles.
In 2011-12 he undertook a major study for the Asian Development Bank on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards in Central Asia as a prelude to a major new initiative to reform SPS-related legislation and border controls. See below. In 2013 he completed drafting regulatory guidance for the registration of microbial biological pesticides for Africa on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Current and Previous Funded Research Projects
Study of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures in the CAREC countries of Central Asia.
Under contract for Asian Development Bank (2011-2012). This project study was initiated by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy. Its objective is to identify areas for improvement in the administration and application of SPS regulations, procedures, and standards in the CAREC region.
It recommended a set of concerted, coordinated measures designed to improve and reduce delays in handling perishable goods in transit (and particularly at border crossing points), ensure that food is safe for consumers, and prevent the spread of pests and diseases among animals and plants. The study is based on an examination of SPS measures as applied in the People's Republic of China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan.
The study involved a wide-ranging assessment of current procedures for animal and plant quarantine, veterinary inspection, food safety inspection, and risk analysis and assessment, assessing conformity with internationally accepted standards.
Study of SPS in Russia and Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, 2013-14.
With Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). There will be two papers as outputs, one study on SPS issues in fish exports from Norway to Russia, the other a study of the implications of Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation and the Customs Union on trade with EU and other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Both papers will be co-authored with Irina Kireeva, of Italian Law Firm NCMT (co-author of already published work).
Research on trade facilitation in Africa, 2013-14
Funded by the World Trade Organisation/Standards and Trade Development Facility in partnership with Trade Mark Southern Africa and COMESA. Dr Black is lead researcher on this project, the specific objectives being to:
- raise awareness about the synergies between the implementation of SPS measures and trade facilitation;
- identify key needs, opportunities and good practices to improve the implementation of SPS measures in a way that ensures the appropriate level of health protection while minimizing trade transaction costs; and
- develop recommendations to strengthen future work and technical cooperation focused on SPS and trade facilitation.
This research will examine, firstly, the SPS controls that are applied to selected products by particular exporting and importing countries, and how they are implemented in practice. While the focus will be on official (i.e. recorded) trade, wherever possible and relevant, attention will be given to: (i) unrecorded and informal trade for the selected products; and (ii) informal payments and related waiting times, as well as formal fees. Secondly, the research will consider ongoing initiatives to improve SPS protection and reduce trade transaction costs by simplifying, standardizing and/or harmonizing SPS measures, procedures and processes, and/or enhancing collaboration between SPS authorities and other organizations involved in trade.
Responsibilities within the University
- Lecturing in MSc programmes and supervising dissertations – Food Safety & Quality Management, Environmental Law and Policy
- Course coordinator Environmental Law and Policy
- Asian Development Bank (2013). Modernizing sanitary and phytosanitary measures to facilitate trade in agricultural products. Report on the development of an SPS Plan for the CAREC countries. [Prepared by Robert Black]
- Black, Robert, Fava, Fabio, Mattei, Niccolo, Seal, Susan and Verdier, Valerie (2011) Case studies on the use of biotechnologies and on biosafety provisions in four African countries. Journal of Biotechnology, 156. pp. 370-381. ISSN 0168-1656 (doi:10.1016/j.jbiotec.2011.06.036)
- Kireeva, I., Black R. (2011). Chemical Safety of Food: Setting of maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides and other contaminants in the Russian Federation and in the EU. European Food and Feed law review 6 (3) 174-186.
- Black, R., Kireeva, I. (2010). General overview of the Russian Federation sanitary and phytosanitary legislation in light of the WTO SPS Agreement and EU principles of food safety. Review of Central and East European Law 35 (3) 225-255.
- Black, Robert and Kireeva, Irina (2010) International trade and plant protection issues: example of plant quarantine law of the Russian Federation. Journal of World Trade, 44 (3). pp. 591-609. ISSN 1011-6702
- Black, R., Kireeva, I., (2009). International biosecurity frameworks to protect biodiversity with emphasis on science and risk assessment. In: 'Agriculture, Biodiversity and Markets' eds Lockie, S. & Carpenter, D. Earthscan, pp, 77-98.
- Outhwaite, Opi, Black, Robert and Laycock, Angela (2008) The significance of cost recovery for the regulation of agricultural health: A case study in pursuing grounded theory. Journal of Law and Society, 35 (S1). pp. 126-148. ISSN 0263-323X (Print), 1467-6478 (Online) (doi:10.1111/j.1467-6478.2008.00429.x)
Recent Conference Presentations
- R. Black (2013). Overview of regional guidelines for microbial biopesticide registration.
- Trilateral Meeting on Biopesticide Registration. Lilongwe, Malawi, 6-7 August 2013.
- R. Black (2013) Guidance Document explained. Technical Work Group Meeting on Development of a Guidance Document for Registration of Microbial Biopesticides from a Regional Approach. Nairobi, Kenya, 31 January-1 February 2013. http://www.aatf-africa.org/Regulatory-Frameworks-for-Microbial-Biopesticides-in-Sub-Saharan-Africa
- R. Black (2012). Global trends on biopesticide registration. Round Table on Regional Registration Strategy for Microbial Biopesticides. Zanzibar, Tanzania, 12-13 June 2012.
- R. Black. Findings of SPS study in CAREC.
- R. Black. International best practice on SPS measures
- Workshop on SPS in CAREC. Bangkok, Thailand. 25-26 July 2012.
- R. Black. A comparative study of pesticide legislation in developing countries. Marla Holder Memorial Pesticide Symposium. Belize City, Belize, 16-20 June 2008.
- Fellow of Higher Education Academy
- Senior Editor of online journal New Disease Reports for British Society for Plant Pathology
- Recognised internationally as leading expert on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures in international trade of food and other agricultural products. Since 2011 have been invited by donors and international agencies (Asian Development Bank, USDA, USAID, World Trade Organisation) to lead studies and consultancy work in this area.
- Gave expert opinion on biosecurity (foot and mouth disease) theft of virus from security) for news programmes on ITV, CNN, Al Jazeera and BBC World Service.
Dr Robert Black
Natural Resources Institute
University of Greenwich
Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, United Kingdom.
Tel: +44 (0)1634 379186