The International Year of Plant Health 2020 (IYPH2020) will see a number of activities coordinated or sponsored by the ISPP. For its part, Food Security will consider the impacts of plant pathogens on the various components of food security – food production, access to food, and the nutritional value of food.
The landscape of plant pathology is made up of “stars”: potato late blight, rice blast, wheat stripe rust. And therefore, it consists also of neglected diseases, including many cereal and legume diseases, as well as diseases of other crops – one might think of rice brown spot, of wheat spot blotch, of the virus diseases of cassava, and many others. Each of these plant-disease systems have their own story to tell: of the progress of disease through landscapes of agrosystems; of the role of the social fabrics and the networks of human exchanges in spreading disease; of the disruption of whole system performances – of the loss of production, as well as of overall resilience; and also of the accumulation of mycotoxins in the diet of the most fragile part, and yet the future, of societies: mothers and young children. These systems can also tell us stories of diseases becoming plant pathogen models for the plant sciences, of progress in better understanding the molecular genetics of host-plant interactions and the resistances of plants to pathogens. They also tell us stories about the persistent, continuous and hard work that it takes to quantify, monitor, and manage diseases in the field, all over the world.
Little is known, among the wider scientific community, of the critical role of seeds (stem cuttings) in spreading devastating cassava diseases very locally, and at great distances too; of the consequences of climate change and climate variability on stripe rust of wheat worldwide; of the permanent threat that late blight still constitutes for potato worldwide, in the temperate but also tropical world; and of the continuous exposure of children and parents to mycotoxins in the developing world, while the developed world fears them so much. Plant diseases matter, and Food Security is the right platform to convey both the science and the messages that go with it.
The Year of Plant Health will certainly bring about critical, over-arching questions: on the effects of climate change on plant health, on the disruption of value-chains and trade at various scales, and on the impacts of plant diseases on environmental sustainability. Looking at this diversity of plant pathogen systems can provide new ideas on these questions, which ultimately impact food security in both the developed and developing world.
With the upcoming Year of Plant Health, the Editorial Board of Food Security has therefore decided to launch a new series of articles: “Pathogens which Threaten Food Security”. With the assistance of the Food Security Commission of the ISPP Chaired by Prof. Lise Korsten, a series of plant-pathogen systems has been defined, and a set of experts, quite a few of them science leaders, has been commissioned to write articles for the series. I am very pleased to provide below a list of potential articles to hopefully appear in 2020 in Food Security