BSPP News Spring 2001 - Online Edition

The Newsletter of the British Society for Plant Pathology
Number 38, Spring 2001 

Plant Health Importing Licensing

MAFF Plant Health Division would like to draw the attention of readers to the requirement for a plant health licence to work on certain prohibited or harmful plants, plant material, plant pests, soil and growing media.  Import licensing is an important safeguard to our environment, as well as to our agricultural and horticultural industries.  It should be at the forefront of the minds of those who work with plants and soils.

Plant scientists should be aware of and take steps to ensure containment of plant pests* the escape of which would not only damage their own corporate or personal reputations but would also endanger crops in the UK and other EC Member States.  There are many plant pests and diseases around the world which, if they were to become established in Great Britain, could cause serious damage to plants.  The most obvious example is the impact on the potato crop should the Colorado beetle become established in this country.

[* 'Plant pest' means pests of and harmful organisms liable to infect plants or plant products which belong to the animal or plant kingdoms, or which are viruses, mycoplasmas or other pathogens and includes genetically modified plant pests.]

To guard against the spread of harmful organisms official controls apply to import, movement and keeping of plants, plant material, plant pests and other material which may pose a risk to plant health, e.g. soil.  Controls are based on EC and UK legal provisions. However, with the provision of suitable safeguards, a plant health licence may be issued to allow the import, movement and keeping of prohibited material for trials, scientific or varietal selection work.  Licences are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) for England and Wales (on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales Agriculture Department (NAWAD)), and by the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department (SERAD) for Scotland.  The Plant Health (Great Britain) Order 1993 (as amended) provides for the granting of licences in accordance with Council Directive 95/44/EC, which prescribes, inter alia, detailed quarantine and containment conditions.

The aim of licensing is not to impose inflexible restrictions or stop work being carried out, but to ensure that the work can be undertaken with no risk to plant health.  If, however, prohibited material is imported, moved or kept without the necessary authorisation from MAFF or SERAD it may be seized and destroyed.  It could also result in prosecution under the Plant Health Order.

An explanatory leaflet (PHI 1) on the issue of licences for the import and keeping of prohibited material is available from MAFF.  The leaflet also explains the charges payable in England and Wales for the issue of licences.  The leaflet is available on the MAFF website (  Alternatively, copies are available from: Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Plant Health Division, Marketing and International Trade Branch, Room 340, Foss House, Kings Pool, 1-2 Peasholme Green, York, YO1 2PX. Tel.: 01904-455191/5.

More information on licensing arrangements in Scotland can be obtained from: Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department, Plant Health and Potatoes Branch, Pentland House, 47 Robb's Loan, Edinburgh, EH14 1TW. Tel.: 0130-556-8400 Ext 46345/46351. Enquiries about plant health import requirements and restrictions in Northern Ireland under the Plant Health Order (Northern Ireland) 1993 (as amended) should be addressed to: Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland (DARDNI), Quality Assurance Division, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3SB. Tel.: 01232-524426.

Richard Harris
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Plant Health Division, Foss House, York

Obituary - Ian F Storey

His many friends will be saddened to hear of Ian Storey's death on 2 September. Born in 1916, Ian was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Manchester University. He completed a PhD at Imperial College, London (having worked on strains of Rhizoctonia solani) before embarking on a long and distinguished career as an advisory plant pathologist beginning in 1941 at the University of Reading. His subsequent service in the National Agricultural and Advisory Service (later the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service) took him initially to Leeds and then to Cambridge. On arrival at Cambridge Ian was confronted with a serious problem - the failure to control apple scab in Bramleys in the Wisbech area. Suprisingly little was known about the epidemiology of scab but with the cooperation of J M Hirst (then at Rothamsted) and his spore trap, Storey showed how the severe outbreaks were due to the poor timing of sprays in relation to the release of ascospores. He also observed the effectiveness as sprays of the first fungicides with eradicant as well as protectant properties. Ideas developed during this work were influential later in the timing of sprays to control other diseases, especially barley mildew and other cereal leaf diseases. Ian was appointed Regional Plant Pathologist for the East Midland Region in 1956. His wide knowledge of plant pathology, especially diseases of arable and field vegetable crops, was in great demand by the industry for 25 years until his retirement from the Regional Centre at Shardlow Hall, near Derby, in 1981. During his career Ian developed a considerable expertise on the effects of diseases and environmental conditions on the yield and quality of cultivated mushrooms; he remained a member of the Mushroom Growers' Association until his death.

Ian Storey, known fondly to those who worked with him as 'The Doc', was a remarkable character; an instinctive diagnostician, his ability to quickly and accurately diagnose crop diseases in the plant clinic was legendary. Armed with a hand lens, a sharp knife and a vast experience of diseases and disorders, Ian often established a diagnosis well before the plant sample had been booked into the day register. Never conventional, his questioning mind, ability for lateral thinking and refreshing disdain for bureaucracy made him a stimulating person to work with and yielded a rich store of amusing anecdotes. A kindly, gentle man, Ian Storey was always generous with his time and experience of plant pathology. He will be remembered fondly by all those who benefited from his wisdom and sound advice. Ian is survived by three daughters and a son.

John Evans 

New Disease Reports: a report of the first year of publication

New Disease Reports (NDR) was launched at the December 1999 BSPP Presidential Conference in Oxford, UK.  Since the launch, the "shocking pink" publicity designed by Linda Crossley at CSL, has caught the eye of many plant pathologists.  This, coupled with easy access and publication via the BSPP website (see managed by John Clarkson at HRI Wellesbourne, has led to an encouraging submission of 23 reports in the first year of NDR.

During 2000, submissions initially originated in the UK, even for those new disease situations occurring in other parts of the world.  However, as the year progressed NDR went global, in every sense. In total 10 papers originated in the UK with the remaining coming from all parts of the globe.  Twelve submissions were "fungal in nature" with a reasonably even split between the remaining 11 papers for viruses, bacteria and phytoplasmas. Of the 23 submissions, 11 were published in the December 2000 issue of Plant Pathology.  At the time of writing (December 2000) four more have been accepted and will be published in Plant Pathology in June 2001.  Of the remaining submissions, two were rejected pending proof of pathogenicity.

Accepted papers will now be published biannually in the BSPP journal Plant Pathology, to accommodate the volume of submissions, as well as the lead in time of six months for the journal.  Reports will have to have been accepted by January each year to be published in the June issue of the journal, and by July for publication in December.

Costs of New Disease Reports have been kept to a minimum.  The main start-up costs were those associated with publicity, which were shared in part, with some contribution from the Association of Applied Biologists. The editorial board comprises 12 editors, three each for mycology, phytoplasmas virology and bacteriology.  Although we aim to process submitted papers within about a month of submission there are exceptions.  Generally speaking, turnaround time has been satisfactory for all concerned.

All involved in New Disease Reports are to be congratulated on fulfilling a need that has been wanting since the demise of New or Unusual Records.  I envisage New Disease Reports will continue to grow in popularity.

Dr Claire Sansford (Senior Editor)
CSL, York, UK, YO41 1LZ