Monday 1 March 2010
The monitoring and surveillance of plant pests and diseases is vital in any effort to improve biosecurity. CABI and its partners are scaling up efforts to improve plant health by linking up crucial information resources from around the world.
Speaking today (Monday 1 March 2010) at a conference titled Global Biosecurity 2010 in Brisbane, Australia, Dr Trevor Nicholls, Chief Executive Officer of CABI, will call for partners to help develop a single authoritative database to monitor the spread of plant pests and diseases.
Dr Trevor Nicholls said:
“The world today faces an unprecedented challenge to feed a growing population in the face of climate change and water shortage. Yet we still lose up to 40% of the food we grow to plant pests and diseases. If we could reduce these losses we could feed many more people without any extra use of land, water, pesticides or fertilizer.
“Even though plant pests and diseases are likely to spread more rapidly due to trade, travel and climate, there is, today, no systematic global approach to track these outbreaks. By providing relevant content from CABI and respected partners through a focused portal we propose to provide a unique system to track the occurrence and spread of diseases worldwide so that countries like Australia can be alerted to take preventative steps.
“A current example of the urgent need to track the spread of a plant disease is the emergence of a virulent strain of black stem rust called Ug99. This deadly airborne fungus is on the move and poses a serious threat to wheat production around the world. The fungus has already spread from Uganda to Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran and Yemen and there are concerns that the Middle East will be next. Efforts are underway to produce wheat resistant to the fungus, but in the meantime tracking its spread is a priority.”
CABI will create a comprehensive global database of plant health, underpinned by CABI’s ever-growing collection of the world’s most extensive and trusted agricultural content. This currently comprises eight million records in CAB Abstracts, 30,000 pest datasheets from the Crop Protection Compendium, thousands of images, and almost 2,000 distribution maps. These will be augmented with research project findings, book content, sanitary and phytosanitary legislative standards, and open access data from authoritative partners. These include the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Plant Protection Convention, and various national plant protection organizations.
The database will be informed by input from a significant expansion of CABI’s Global Plant Clinic (GPC), working at the national level with plant science organizations, agricultural ministries, and extension systems to create a sustainable local plant healthcare system. The GPC approach of using plant health clinics offers a unique and cost-effective way of raising quality-of-living standards and income levels for poor rural farming communities in developing countries. These groups who need help the most, have historically been the most difficult to reach.
The GPC currently has a network of more than 80 regular clinics operating in nine countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Over the next five years CABI plans to expand this to over 400 clinics in 40 countries.
Media contact: Sarah Wilson, PR and Corporate Communications Manager, CABI, tel: +44 (0)1491 829361, mob: +44 (0)7516 928 845, email: email@example.com
CABI is a not-for-profit science-based development and information organization with nine centres worldwide. Our mission and direction are influenced by more than 40 member countries that help guide the activities undertaken. These include scientific publishing, development projects and research, and microbial services. Our staff research and find solutions to agricultural and environmental problems. We use science, information and communication tools to help solve issues of global concern. We particularly focus on improving food security and safeguarding the environment. We do this by helping farmers grow more and lose less, combating invasive species, finding natural alternatives to pesticides and improving access to agricultural and environmental scientific knowledge. For more information go to www.cabi.org
About the Global Plant Clinic
The Global Plant Clinic (GPC) is managed by CABI in alliance with the UK Food and Environment Research Agency. The GPC provides and coordinates plant health services in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It has an expert diagnostic service for all plants and types of problems and regularly publishes new disease records. The GPC trains plant doctors and scientists, establishes plant health clinics and builds plant health systems. We link extension, research and farmers and work with all sectors to improve regular and reliable access to technical support and advice. Our aim is to create durable plant health services for those who need them most. The GPC is funded by the UK Department for International Development, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).