British Society for Plant Pathology

BSPP Presidential Meeting 1997

Plant Pathology - Global Perspectives of an Applied Science

Session I - Setting the scene

Plant disease, a global problem
Dr Jim M. Waller
International Mycological Institute, Egham, Surrey TW20 9TY

Despite the current agricultural sufficiency in much of the developed world, pressures for increased agricultural productivity and efficiency continue to occur on a global scale and are driven by factors such as population increase, urbanisation and related infrastructural development, civil strife, climatic change and environmental degradation. Many facets of agricultural and related development lead to an increase in the actual or potential hazards caused by plant diseases. 'Globalisation' is leading to greater movement of people, goods and services with consequent risk of pathogens spreading to new areas and a reduction in the normal epidemiological constraints restricting disease development. The expansion of agriculture and novel germplasm to new areas can lead the emergence of new disease problems sometimes involving the appearance of apparently new pathogens. Intensification of crop production often involves techniques which exacerbate disease problems especially those of a soil-borne nature and where this is accompanied by monoculture selection pressure for the emergence of virulent types increases. Greater investment in crop production raises the economic significance of diseases as pathogens previously considered as minor nuisances become recognised as yield constraining factors. Examples of disease problems which have arisen largely as a consequence of these activities will be considered. Some of these, particularly in Africa are currently of major significance and are able to attract the attentions of funding agencies. Others are of a more insidious nature but constrain the productivity of the millions of small farmers in the developing world. Many of these problems are ill-defined and unresolved and represent a greater challenge for plant pathologists in a world where client articulated demand and shorter term impact with longer term sustainability are the keys to secure research funding.


BSPP Presidential Address: Whither or wither extension plant pathology?
Dr Nigel V. Hardwick
Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York YO4 1LZ

The full script of the President Address will be published in the Society's journal Plant Pathology.