An opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness and inspiring people to learn more about plant health.
Ensuring that seeds are healthy is the precondition for healthy crops and crucial for agricultural production as well the environment.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), plants make up 80% of the food we eat, and plant pests are responsible for the loss of up to 40% of global food crops, and for trade losses in agricultural products exceeding USD 220 billion annually. Plant breeding is a major driver to secure the availability of food by strengthening resistance to plant diseases, insects and with that reducing crop loss.
European plant breeding sector has a long history record of its quality of seeds of improved varieties which makes Europe the largest exporter in the global seed market. Moving plants and plant products, including seeds across borders may be risky as this may spread plant pests and diseases, causing great damage to native plants and the environment. Yet, the enforcement by the seed sector of the EU regulation on protective measures against pests of plants, in compliance with the International Plant Protection Convention and international standards, helps keeping trade in seeds safe without setting up unnecessary barriers.
More plant pests are appearing earlier and in places where they were never seen before due to climate change. Plant breeding is the science of recombining plant genetics into new varieties with improved stress-tolerances and disease-resistance. Innovative approaches in plant breeding and seed production give farmers access to the best quality seeds that play a major role in helping them to respond to climate change and the new pest and disease pressures it brings.
As with human health, protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than dealing with full-blown health emergencies. Thus, prevention is critical for avoiding the devastating impact of pests on agriculture, livehoods and food security. The public and private sector should invest more in plant health initiatives, research and innovative technologies to continue to be among the world leaders in seed production and to foster an economy that works for people and delivers stability and growth.
Euroseeds Technical Manager Christophe Rouillard said: “the International Year of Plant Health is the opportunity for the European seed sector to highlight their practices in terms of plant health research and development, implementation of prevention and risk mitigation measures and therefore the contribution to the seed sector to deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
Visit the IYPH website to know more