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Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland contributes to a new paper on science diplomacy in plant health published by Nature Plants

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 9.9.2020 14.15
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The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland is pleased to announce the release of a new policy paper on “Science diplomacy for plant health”. The paper, published by the prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Plants, was initiated as part of the International Year of Plant Health 2020.

Senior Advisor Ralf Lopian at the Ministry is one of the co-authors. The work brought together qualified experts from the international plant health community to analyse new perspectives and challenges on global phytosanitary research coordination.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that up to 40 per cent of food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases annually, resulting in trade losses of at least USD 220 billion per year. This leaves millions of people without enough food to eat and seriously damages agriculture and the environment.

“Science is the key to successfully addressing challenges posed by the international spread of pests and by plant diseases. At a time of diminishing resources worldwide for research on plant pests and diseases, we need international collaboration and cooperation to compensate for the limited resources and to undertake research more effectively”, said Senior Adviser Ralf Lopian.

By establishing a global network aimed at facilitating international research efforts on regulated and emerging pests, some of the limitations phytosanitary systems are currently experiencing can be overcome. Countries will also be better positioned to protect themselves and their agriculture, environment and trade activities from plant pests and diseases with the help of such a network. Additionally, a global network would facilitate collaboration between policymakers, research funders and scientists and bring together national and regional research authorities such as National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs), Regional Plant Protection Organisations (RPPOs), governments, and representatives from academia, research institutes and industries.

“As the complexity of plant health challenges requires knowledge and specialized expertise that cannot be found in a single country alone, diplomacy for science triggers international multi-disciplinary collaborations to tackle these challenges”, said Dr Baldissera Giovani, Euphresco coordinator and lead author of the study. “Global phytosanitary research coordination will speed-up harmonization of approaches and reconcile national views to move from the lowest common denominator compromise to a more ambitious vision of international plant health”, he added.

The phytosanitary authorities in many countries have already identified the need for a global research coordination network. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been at the centre of these international developments. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Strategic Framework for 2020–2030, which will be presented for adoption at the fifteenth session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM-15) in 2021, addresses this issue. Experts from Finland and New Zealand drafted the Strategic Framework. Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, pointed out that “this initiative is once again an important international plant health issue which has been substantially influenced by Finland. It shows once again, Finland’s excellent reputation in the international sanitary and phytosanitary community.”

The abstract and full text: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41477-020-0744-x  

Reprints of the article can be ordered at http://www.nature.com/reprints/index.html.

More information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:

  • Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary, tel. +358400 291 910, firstname.lastname(at)mmm.fi
  • Taina Aaltonen, Deputy Director General, tel. +358 295162439, firstname.lastname(at)mmm.fi
  • Ralf Lopian, Senior Adviser, tel. +358295162329, firstname.lastname(at)mmm.fi
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