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The Proposal for an International Year of Plant Health in 2020

Ralf Lopian: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry - Animal and Plant Health Unit - Food Department

<div>The productivity of crops grown for human consumption is increasingly at risk due to the incidence of pests, such as weeds, pathogens and animal pests. In particular pests which have been introduced into new ecosystems can have devastating effects on food security and the environment. The vast increase in the international trade as well as the effects of climate change epitomizes a dramatic increase in the risk of pest introductions. New pathways and disturbed ecological conditions set the perfect conditions for future pest epidemics of major proportions. While the pest risks are increasing globally, resources committed to plant health are reduced, often significantly so, in most countries. Plant health research, taxonomical and diagnostic services are diminishing on national levels. Plant protection services world-wide are facing more and more risks with fewer resources available. It is crucial to strengthen plant health programmes and initiatives to prevent losses to agricultural production and biodiversity. To address these challenges, Finland thought it would be necessary to raise public awareness about plant health and its benefits for the global society by declaring the year 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). An IYPH would serve as a trigger to make national, regional and international plant health systems stronger and more responsive to face the plant health challenges of the future. It will also create a stimulus for better and environmentally sounder agricultural production and for research in plant pathology and entomology. The IYPH will be decided at the next meeting of the UN General Assembly in November 2018. Plant pathology professionals at all levels should promote the IYPH with their counterparts in civil society, industry and government and should consider events and actions to be undertaken during the IYPH.</div>

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