Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Report: Too few plant health academics
The Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee today published its Report on Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity, announcing that there were ‘too few plant health academics’ in UK Universities and colleges.
Committee Chair, Miss Anne McIntosh said:
“The UK needs its own solid core of dedicated, well trained experts in this area and the Government must act with urgency to address the skills gap that we currently face.”
While the report endorsed the recommendations of the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce, it also urged the Government to deliver every recommendation fully in collaboration with stakeholders. The Committee warned that the recent outbreak of ash dieback disease exposed some lack of definition of the roles and responsibilities of plant health authorities in the UK.
“The Chief Plant Health Officer should address this shortcoming as a top priority” said Miss McIntosh. “Co-ordination and communication between the multiple plant health organisations, both within the UK and across the EU, is key. We must take advantage of lessons learned on the continent and take early action at home to combat the risks posed by diseases and pests” says Anne McIntosh.
Call for Funding
MPs also called for ring-fenced funding to underpin long-term research and development work that focuses on preparation for future plant health threats.
Commenting on this, Miss McIntosh added “disease risks to plants in the UK are rising significantly but funding for research in this area has not kept pace. One of Defra’s new priorities is to safeguard plant health: long term funding must reflect this accordingly.”
Read the full report by clicking on the link below.