Following on the heels of COP26, ‘Our Plants, Our Future’ – the BSPP (and EFPP) conference for 2021 – held the impacts of climate change and globalisation as strong influences for plant health and our collective future. With a strong policy outlook on plant health and plant pathology, Nicola Spence – as BSPP President – introduced Defra Chief Scientific Officer, Gideon Henderson to open the conference.
After the strictures of 2020, it was a relief to finally get together in person, catch-up with colleagues after 2 years of remote working and meet new members of the plant pathology (or ‘plant health’ as a legacy of the International Year of Plant Health, IYPH) community.
— Joana M.G.N. Vicente (@JoanaGVicente) December 7, 2021
Edgbaston conference centre, at the University of Birmingham, warmly welcomed all in-person delegates and our camera/sound technical team provided full virtual access to all talks at this BSPP 2021 Presidential conference for the first time.
Nicola Spence took us on her journey to Plant Chief, from an early love of plants, through to a leading role in plant pathology at Fera. We were all engaged in the importance of promoting a national awareness of the health of our plants and the value of strategies employed at government level to protect plant health. Sarah Gurr and Saskia Hogenhout then shared the need to track both fungal pathogens and insect vectors for plant disease at an international scale. This theme developed through the 3 days of the conference, highlighting the power of plant disease detection, disease modelling, international data sharing and networks to understand plant health patterns globally. A forum to showcase plant pathology research and share successes.
With inspiring speakers and an enthusiastic audience, we discussed notable plant epidemics, plant breeding solutions, policy strategies and goals, biocontrol and plant health management stories. We heard about the importance of communicating plant pathology health messages to the science community, global farmers and the public. We celebrated the roles of international organisations like CABI, Connected Virus Network and the importance of the International Plant Protection Convention and the UN-FAO.
Inspired by talks from our BSPP Honorary member for 2021, Jonathan Jones, and RKS Wood prize winner 2021, Sophien Kamoun, we were enthralled at the pace of scientific discovery and innovation happening in our global community.
Zigzagging to durable plant disease resistance @jonathandgjones @TheSainsburyLab how do we elevate plants out of the evolutionary treadmill to a path of nonhost resistance? #OPOF2021 pic.twitter.com/zeHJTfCS13
— Nick Talbot (@talbotlabTSL) December 8, 2021
Nicola Spence, as President for 2020 and 2021, has led us through 2 turbulent years for the society (with the backdrop of a world in lockdowns), to this buzzing and joyful opportunity to meet again.
— Richard Buggs (@RJABuggs) December 8, 2021
There is a definite feeling of positivity in the society as we look forward to 2022 and the hope that a human pandemic might fade from the forefront. As a community, we are reinforced in the knowledge that anticipating and combatting future plant pandemics is the vital goal that we all work for together to uphold.