15 September 2016 – The BSPP Presidential meeting for 2016 was held last week (12- 13 September) in St Hugh’s College, Oxford. Over one hundred delegates presented and discussed issues around food security, biosecurity and trade, and the role of plant health. Speakers included, Professor Sarah Gurr (University of Exeter), Dr Fen Beed (AVRDC) , Professor Nigel Taylor (Danforth Centre, US), Professor Nicola Spence (Chief Plant Health Scientist), Dr Gerard Clover (RHS), Ms Kenza Le Mentec (STDF-WTO) and Dr Andy Whetten (University of Reading) as well as CABI’s Dr Julie Flood (BSPP President). Dr Flood’s address focused on the need to put research into practice in order to give maximum impact in country.

Following the main meeting, the “Grand Challenges in Plant Pathology study group” event was held at the Doctoral Training Centre, University of Oxford, on 14-16 September. The event was the first of its kind, aiming to engage and inspire the next generation of plant pathologists. The event was sponsored by the BSPP, the American Phytopathological Society (APS) and CABI, and saw five real problems posed by industry and non-academic organisations put to an inter-disciplinary group of 27 young scientists (post-docs and graduate students).

Over the course of the three days, attendees learned about recent technological developments that have the potential to transform plant pathology research, and about the legislative, ethical and practical considerations that must be taken into account when developing new technologies and approaches. Dr Flood presented the CABI challenge on lack of adoption of best practice in country and she, together with CABI’s Phil Taylor and Claire Beverley, joined facilitators from Syngenta, Fera and APHA to inform and inspire discussion, encouraging delegates to think about the questions. Group 2, which examined the challenge posed by CABI, presented the winning pitch.

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