Scientists at The Sainsbury Laboratory, along with partners at the
International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the John Innes
Centre, warned that the world is not prepared for the next plant health
emergency, including the rise in new epidemics and plant diseases.
In a paper published in Science, the scientists propose the creation of a
Global Surveillance System (GSS) that will extend and adapt established
biosecurity practices and networking facilities. The model for GSS comes
from lessons gained from previous outbreaks such as the wheat blast outbreak
in Bangladesh in 2016 and the bacterial outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa that
started affecting olive trees in Europe in 2013. The proposal comes from a
multidisciplinary group of experts from academia, research centers, and
funding organizations that work on issues related to plant and human health.
The group hopes that the GSS framework they propose gains traction in 2020,
designated as the International Year of Plant Health by the United Nations.
The system would prioritize six major food crops ? maize, potato, cassava,
rice, beans, and wheat ? as well as other important food and cash crops that
are traded across borders. Aside from tapping cutting-edge technology for
rapid disease diagnostics, GSS would also take advantage of communiications
networks, including social media, to rapidly share information.
"A lot of collaboration and discussion is needed to improve existing systems
so we can avoid outbreaks that could negatively impact food security and
trade" notes Mónica Carvajal, a researcher at CIAT and lead author of the