Shortage of Plant Disease Experts in the UK

1st Nov 2012

The British Society of Plant Pathology (BSPP) Audit of Plant Pathology Training and Education in the UK was published today. It reports a major decline in teaching and research on plant diseases in British Universities. Fewer than half the institutions that teach biology, agriculture, or forestry offer plant pathology courses.

President of the BSPP Professor James Brown said, “Britain is not producing graduates with the expertise needed to identify and control plant diseases in our farms and woodlands. One of the most worrying finding is the decline in practical training in plant pathology.”

The lack of plant pathology expertise in the current crop of young scientists is not the only problem. The report also highlighted the small number of plant pathologists appointed to permanent university positions in the last 20 years. Many experts in this field today are aged over 50. The authors of the report attribute this to a shift towards subjects which bring more short-term income into universities.

Additionally, given the current outbreak of Chalara fraxinea in Britain's ash trees, it is alarming that the BSPP estimates that there are fewer than 10 qualified plant pathology experts active in research on tree diseases in the UK. There is only one research programme on tree pathology in a British university

For more information and the full report, go to: http://www.bspp.org.uk/news.php?id=54

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