field of plant pathology
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The British Society for Plant Pathology’s aims of studying and advancing the field of plant pathology are explored here, including the importance of advancing education in the field

The British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP) began its life in 1981, with the clear aim of studying and advancing the field of plant pathology. Supporting the professional interests of plant pathologists globally is a key aim of the BSPP through a number of means, such as a newsletter. The BSPP has a board who meets four times a year when they develop and discuss new ideas and initiatives to support and promote plant pathologists.1

Advancing plant pathology and education

When it comes to education in the field, BSPP keenly believes in supporting GCSE and A-level units on communicable diseases of plants. This can be achieved by means of accessible and simple descriptions of the pathogens which been reviewed by plant pathologists. For example, on the website of BSPP, we learn that plant Pathology can be described as: “The study of plants and their pathogens, the process of disease, and how plant health and disease are influenced by factors such as the weather, non-pathogenic microorganisms, and plant nutrition. It encompasses fundamental biology as well as applied agricultural sciences.”2

The BSPP clearly supports the advancement of plant pathology education from primary school3 to university level4 but beyond, that they strongly support careers in the field. Certainly, there are a huge number of careers in the field and the majority of plant pathologists find their employment by doing government-funded research or working in university departments or for commercial companies. We know that such a person has an interest in, “understanding the organisms and agents that cause plant diseases and how diseases affect plant health.”5

On the subject of education, we also know that the BSPP desires to promote awareness and understanding of the importance of plant pathology to a wider audience beyond its own membership. As such, a fund for the Promotion of Plant Pathology has been set up and projects within this can be part of wider endeavours when it comes to promoting the public understanding of science, with a specific focus on the function, role and activities of plant pathology.6

2020: The year to recognise and protect plant health

Finally, one interesting development highlighted in the Spring 2019 edition of the Newsletter of the British Society for Plant Pathology is the significant announcement by the UN General Assembly that 2020 will be the year to protect and recognise plant health. IYPH 2020 is the International Year of Plant Health and the IPPC – International Plant Protection Convention is: “An international treaty that aims to secure coordinated, effective action to prevent and to control the introduction and spread of pests of plants and plant products.”

We know that IYPH 2020 is building up a number of resources to motivate, support and guide efforts towards celebrating IYPH 2020. According to the IPPC, healthy plants are the foundation for all life on earth, making up over 80% of the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe. They continue this interesting point with their thoughts on the importance of plant health below.7

“Plant health is the key to the sustainable intensification of agriculture to feed the growing global population by 2050. Thus, recognition, advocacy and support for the promotion of plant health is of paramount importance if the international community is to guarantee plant resources for a food-secure world based on stable and sustainable ecosystems. With this in mind, in July 2017 the FAO Conference approved a draft resolution requesting the General Assembly of the United Nations to consider declaring 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH).”8

Certainly, one of the key aims of IYPH 2020 is to raise awareness among the general public of the important role of plant diseases, which can be done, for example, through events in the UK. Looking ahead, the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization is of the opinion that during 2020, the necessity to raise public awareness and the importance of international cooperation in plant health should be priorities. That ties in really well with the aims of the British Society for Plant Pathology, some of which have been explored in this article.










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