John L. Sherwood, University of Georgia
The participation of scientific societies in the public policy decision-making process is critical. Thus, APS Council authorized the formation of the National Plant Pathology Board (NPPB) in 1991 to provide scientific input to the policy-making processes. The board was charged to provide advice directly or through the APS president, to different societies, organizations, and persons drafting legislative bills; provide drafts of APS comments to APS officers to evaluate and transmit to agencies on issues such as proposed rules and regulations of transgenic plants, safer or alternative pesticides and research funding and administration thereof; and develop position papers in policy areas of relevance to plant pathology. While the intent of the charge to the NPPB has not significantly changed since 1991, the globalization of agriculture and the economy has significantly affected the breadth of the issues germane to policy-making in regard to plant pathology and the rapidity with which responses are needed and expected. To enhance the ability of the NPPB to fulfill the directive given by APS Council and communicate to membership the activities and successes of the NPPB, council has approved several changes in the NPPB.The NPPB is now the Public Policy Board (PPB) to facilitate recognition of the charge given to the board by council and to indicate that the breadth of APS Council’s charge to the board is greater than what may occur at the national level. For example, APS with the direction of the former NPPB was the first international scientific organization to provide a response on the proposed rules on biotechnology in Italy. The name PPB better indicates that the board has an interest in policies at the local, national, and international levels and also more directly states the charge given by APS Council in 1991 to the board, which is to provide input on the “policy making process.”Under the original charge given to the NPPB, there was no specific number of members indicated. The current NPPB members were appointed by APS Council, and the APS president, with advice from council, appointed the chair. Council decided that the board should be composed of seven members with 5-year terms renewable one time for a possible total of 10 years on the board. The new model for the PPB is 11 members plus three ad hoc members, so that the PPB has a greater breadth of scientific expertise, contact with more groups and organizations that share a common need in public policy, provides more opportunity for APS member participation, and activities are better shared with APS membership. The 11 members will be composed of 8 members from the society at-large and the presidential lineage (president, president-elect, and vice president). The eight members from the society will be elected for 3-year staggered terms (with the possibility of one reappointment), with two to three new members being elected each year. The chair of PPB will be appointed by council for a 2-year term (with the possibility of one renewal). The chair will assign duties to the other members as needed. The three ad hoc members of the PPB will be the executive vice president of APS, the director of OPAE, and a member of APS staff designated by the executive vice president to facilitate communication. In selecting members for PPB, consideration will be given to assure representation of the many segments of the society that are directly involved in or affected by activities in the charge of the PPB. This could include, but is not limited to, issues related to legislation and regulation, segments of the society such as industry, private practice, USDA-CSREES and public service, and affiliate liaisons such as CAST (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology) and CoFARM (Coalition for Funding Agricultural Research Missions). While there will be a finite membership on PPB, it is envisioned that alumni of PPB would complete projects assigned during their tenure on PPB after their formal appointment on PPB expires, take on new projects of interest, and/or work with the current board by attending the PPB meeting held during the APS Annual Meeting.The proposed structure and activities should result in greater opportunity for participation in PPB activities by membership and better exchange of information between membership and PPB. The current political environment requires a nearly immediate reaction for input to be effective. PPB now meets monthly by conference call, in the spring in Washington, DC to visit with leaders in public policy, and at the APS Annual Meeting.The need is for and the expectation is to respond quickly to emerging issues, thus PPB is working to move toward an anticipatory perspective, so thoughtful and complete responses can be provided when needed. While this approach will not be failsafe, it should lessen the haste in which responses have at times been made in the past. Thus, greater participation by APS membership is now being sought to develop white papers on emerging issues in research and extension in plant pathology, particularly in regard to funding, to sort and prioritize information that comes to PPB and to facilitate communication between other organizations and membership. A report of the activities of PPB (formerly NPPB) for 2000 can be found at: Activities. A proposed PPB membership is being developed for consideration by APS Council at the annual meeting. If you, or someone you know, is interested in serving on PPB please contact the acting chair of PPB: O. W. Barnett, (E-mail: OW_BARNETT@NCSU.EDU, Fax: 919/515-7716)
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