St. Paul, Minn. (August 23, 2001)—An apple a day may keep the doctor away but apples themselves are often the victims of disease. In the past, growers have used antimicrobial compounds (or antibiotics as they’re more commonly known) to control fire blight, a common bacterial disease plaguing apples. But antimicrobial compounds are becoming less effective as microorganisms develop resistance to them. In fact, antimicrobial resistance is becoming an increasing problem for growers of other crops as well, and on August 29, the world’s largest group of plant health scientists will meet to discuss the problem of antimicrobial resistance in agriculture.
“Antimicrobial agents play an important role in the control of plant diseases, both in the field and after harvesting” states Paul Lewis, a plant health scientist, and organizer of the symposium planned for the end of August. Adds Lewis, “Apples are a good example since antibiotics are critical for controlling fire blight disease and obtaining an acceptable harvest. However, apple and pear growers are really struggling with the effects of antibiotic resistance.”
Since antimicrobial resistance has implications not only for the agricultural community, but the clinical and veterinary communities as well, Lewis has invited experts from these scientific disciplines to share their experience. He hopes their knowledge of the subject will provide new insights for plant disease scientists hoping to uncover alternative methods to fight diseases that are now being controlled with antimicrobial compounds. States Lewis, “It’s critical that we examine methods to prevent and/or manage antimicrobial resistance if we are to continue to receive the substantial benefits these agents offer. This symposium is designed to help us begin to do just that.”
The symposium, “Antimicrobial Resistance: A Cross-Cutting Issue Facing the Agricultural, Clinical and Veterinary Communities,” will be held at The American Phytopathological Society (APS) Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, UT, on Wednesday, August 29, at 1:00 p.m. Complimentary registration is available for reporters and science writers. APS is a nonprofit, professional scientific organization dedicated to the study and control of plant diseases, with 5,000 members worldwide.