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ISPP Task Force on Global Food Security
Meeting in Torino, Italy, 26 August 2008
within the 9th International Congress of Plant Pathology
Tuesday 26 August 2008, 14:00 � 17:00
Lingotto Conference Centre, Bruxelles Room



Chrys Akem - Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Queensland, Australia,
Etienne Duveiller - CIMMYT, Mexico,
Richard Falloon - New Zealand Institute for Crop & Food Research, Christchurch, New Zealand,
Hajime Kato - Professor Emeritus,  Kobe, Japan,
Emmanuel Moses - Crops Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana,
Chris Mundt - Oregon State University, USA,
Peter Scott - International Society for Plant Pathology, Oxford, UK, (Chairman)
Richard Strange - Birkbeck College London, UK,;


Peter Scott welcomed participants and gave a brief background on the aims of the Task Force, which were to continue the Activities initiated at ICPP 1998, followed by the first Workshop o f the Task Force held in Bangkok in 1999 and then the Task Force meeting during ICPP2003 in Christchurch.


After reviewing the five current Activities of the Task Force, the meeting would focus on new initiatives and plans for the future.


          ACTIVITY 1: Changing Public Policy and Opinions on Global Food Security

Following the practice initiated at ICPP 1998 and continued at ICPP 2003, a Public Discussion Forum on Plant Pathology and Global Food Security had been organized at ICPP 2008, chaired by the President, Richard Falloon. The contributions were:


         Peter Scott and Richard Strange: ISPP and the challenge of food security

         Gurdev Khush: The R. Glenn Anderson Lecture on World Food Security: Why plant diseases matter to food security

         Harry Evans and Jim Waller: Globalization and the threat to biosecurity

         James Brown: Diversity in plant varieties as a cornerstone of global food security

         Florence Wambugu, James Onsando and Thomas Hohn: GM as a new tool in the resistance toolbox


Some other events that had taken place under this Activity were briefly recalled by Peter Scott:


         Policy Statement on Biotechnology during 1st Asian Conference on Plant Pathology, 2000 in Beijing

         Media Workshop during the Beijing Conference in 2000

         World Food Summit Submission, Rome 2002

         Biosafety event with Entomological Society of America, in 2002.


It was proposed that the Policy Statement on Biotechnology should be reviewed and the Executive Committee be asked to consider reissuing the statement in support of biotechnology as part of ICPP 2008.


It was agreed that the Task Force should maintain momentum by using any opportunity or upcoming event to raise awareness of the role of plant pathology in global food security. The Potato Conference coming up in New Zealand would be a good venue. It was also suggested that an evening session be planned for the upcoming Beijing conference during which the Task Force could focus on success stories coming out of plant disease work from some of the CGIAR centres such as CIP, CIMMYT, and ICRISAT that have made an impact.


ACTIVITY 2: Enhanced PhD training for plant pathology in developing countries


Richard Strange summarized progress under this Activity, which is the subject of a report on ISPPweb.


Highlighted during discussions on the Activity were:


         Continued difficulties in securing funds to finance MS and PhD students.

         The need to uplift and raise this through relevant governments in developing countries.

         Many comments from the survey conducted were not very positive about plant pathology.

         The problem was highlighted but no solutions were suggested.

         There is an issue with many students not returning to their countries after their training.

         Should we encourage more in-country research field work so that those trained in the West could return?

         Richard Strange was asked to summarise a paragraph on the web on where we are on this activity and the way forward.

         Should ISPP look for funding to try and support PhD studies for a 3-year period from developing countries?

         Could PhD studies be included as part of the Congress Challenge? The feeling was that this would dilute the Challenge Programme.

         The general feeling was that the Society should set up a scholarship fund programme for students from developing countries to be funded for their PhD studies. This would require additional funding from outside sources.


ACTIVITY 3: Quantification of the economic impact of some major diseases


Richard Strange reported the  publication of �Plant disease: a threat to global food security� in Annual Review of Phytopathology (Strange and Scott 2005).


Reference was made to available rice yield loss data which should be published and linked to ISPPweb.


ACTIVITY 4: Congress Challenge Project 2003: Development of Appropriate Strategies to Control Cassava Diseases in Ghana


In 2003, linked to the 8th ICPP in Christchurch, a competitive Challenge Programme had been initiated and a call was issued for project proposals to enable plant pathology to contribute to the challenge of global food security. ISPP allocated $50,000 to the Programme over 3 years.


The successful project, from the Crops Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana, was led by Emmanuel Moses. He was attending the 9th ICPP at the invitation of ISPP. He had described the project at the first Keynote Session of the Congress.


Emmanuel Moses recalled that the purpose of the project was to develop, within 3 years, appropriate strategies to control cassava diseases in Ghana, with an emphasis on training farmers to understand that disease limits their production, and then to recognize and manage the diseases that affected their crops.


The project focused on what could be done in practical terms to help farmers to understand how they can grow better crops by demonstrating good practices in the field and by talking to them and their families in group sessions.


The Reports of the project contain some striking quotations, such as these:

         Famine rarely occurs where cassava is grown.

         Most farmers in Ghana have little or no awareness of plant diseases.

         Farmers wanted healthy planting materials, so Community Multiplication Fields were established.

The third one was set in the context of appreciation of ISPP's contribution to local farming, and looks to the prospect of an ongoing legacy of the project.


The project had also delivered an illustrated booklet, Guide to Identification and Control of Cassava Diseases, with descriptions of all the major diseases of cassava that reduce yield in most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.


Aspects of the project were personally summarized by Emmanuel Moses. One of the beneficiary villages was reported to be planning to make him a sub-chief. The project may be considered for a Presidential Award in Ghana.


ACTIVITY 5: Development of the ISPP Website


Peter Williamson had been appointed as ISPP�s Business Manager and he had become the webmaster. The website had been redesigned and had grown considerably. The programme of the Task Force featured prominently. The website was expected to develop further with the coming of the new Journal.



3.1 New Challenge Project 2007


From 15 proposals, ISPP Executive Committee selected the one entitled �Changing Public Perceptions and Opinions on Global Food Security� from Professor Lise Korsten of the University of Pretoria.


She had presented these objectives of the project:


To establish a Food Security Information Hub at the University of Pretoria to build capacity in South Africa and Africa in Plant Pathology and to create public private sector awareness of the importance of plant diseases in food security. To link this hub with other information awareness projects in South Africa. To develop marketing material such as brochures, videos etc, for the public awareness programme. To purchase a second hand truck and convert it into a Plant Pathology Science Information and Demonstrative Laboratory vehicle that can travel between schools and science festivals in South Africa to create public awareness and inform the public of food security issues.


The 3-year, US$50,000 project was to be initiated immediately. A poster at ICPP 2008 in the ISPP booth described the project.


3.2. Journal of Food Security


After receiving the support of the Executive Committee in September 2007, Richard Strange and Peter Scott, as members of the Task Force, had progressed the project to develop a new journal, on behalf of the Advisory Board of 15 distinguished people:


Lodovica Gullino - Professor of Biological and Integrated Plant Disease Management, Universit� degli Studi di Torino. Vice-President, International Society for Plant Pathology. Chair, 9th International Congress of Plant Pathology, 2008.

Modadugu Gupta - World Food Prize Laureate; Senior Research Fellow, WorldFish Center; Vice-President, Asian Fisheries Society

David Ingram - Honorary Professor, Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow; Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; Former Director, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Osamu Ito - Director, Crop Production & Environment Division, Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS)

Gurdev Khush - World Food Prize Laureate; Adjunct Professor of Plant Sciences, University of California Davis; Former Principal Plant Breeder, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

Harry Kuiper - Former Department Head, RIKILT - Institute of Food Safety, Wageningen; Chair, GMO Panel, European Food Safety Authority

Hosny El Lakany - Adjunct Professor in Forest Resources Management, University of British Columbia; Former Assistant Director-General, FAO

Rattan Lal - Professor of Soil Science, Ohio State University; Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center; President, Soil Science Society of America

Bill McKelvey - Principal, SAC; Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies; formerly President, Society for the Study of Animal Breeding; formerly Council Member, British Veterinary Association.

Kanayo Nwanze - Former Director General, Africa Rice Center (WARDA)

Gabrielle Persley - Biotechnology advisor to the World Bank, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Per Pinstrup-Andersen - World Food Prize Laureate; Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy, Cornell University; Former Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Carlos Ser� - Director General, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI);

Prakash Shetty - Professor of Public Health Nutrition, University of Southampton

Medical School


Of the six approaches to publishers made by Gurdev Khush on behalf of the Advisory Board, the one most positively received was to Springer.


In consultation with the Executive Committee, and the Advisory Board, Peter Scott and Richard Strange visited Springer's journal publishing business in The Netherlands in March 2008 and had several conference calls with them.


Publishing Agreement


A Publishing Agreement was negotiated with these key elements:


         A new quarterly journal, Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, is to be launched in the first quarter of 2009, in print and online.

         It is jointly owned in equal shares by ISPP and Springer. Springer is responsible for publishing, and bears all the costs; ISPP is responsible for content and editorial matters. It will be presented as an official journal of ISPP.

         Annually from May 2010, ISPP receives a royalty of 20% of Journal Net Revenue (essentially, income to the publisher from sales).

         The annual subscription for libraries and institutions is EUR 350. For ISPP Members and Associated Society Members it is EUR 30 (of which EUR 5 comes to ISPP for administrative costs). Readers in developing countries can access it through Springer Developing Countries Initiatives such as AGORA, HINARI and OARE.

         The Agreement is for 15 years. It can be extended or cancelled at a year's notice.


Editorial policy


In brief, the journal seeks to address the constraints - physical, biological and socio-economic - which not only limit food production but also the ability of people to access a healthy diet. These come under the following headings:


         Global food needs

The mismatch between population and the ability to provide adequate nutrition

         Global food potential

         Physical constraints to satisfying global food needs

Climate, Desertification, Water supply, Flooding, Soil inadequacies and degradation, Natural disasters

         Biotic constraints to satisfying global food needs

Weeds, Plant disease, Animal disease, Poor husbandry practices

         Nutrition, food quality and food safety

         Socio-political constraints to satisfying global food needs

Land, agricultural and food policy, Access to food, Financial policy, International relations and trade, Wars and ethnic unrest


The journal will consist principally of original refereed papers, taking a synthetic view of the science, sociology and economics of food production, agricultural development, access to food and nutrition. Other articles will be reviews, case studies and letters to the editor. The journal will cover the principles and practice of food security per se, taking an overview of the subject or analysing it with a broad perspective over its many component disciplines, but avoiding duplicating the coverage of these disciplines provided by the sharper focus of other publications.




ISPP had appointed Richard Strange to be Editor-in-Chief. He is Honorary Professor, University College London and Honorary Research Fellow, Birkbeck College, University of London. His appointment has Springer's agreement. He will establish the Editorial Board.


Progress towards the first issue


ISPP had announced the journal on ISPPweb, and in the Newsletter and Listserver.


Through the Advisory Board, Nobel Peace Laureate Norman Borlaug had prepared a contribution for the first issue, commending the journal and the part played by plant pathologists in developing it.


Springer had prepared a flyer which was being used in their marketing programmes. The journal is featured on the Springer website.


The Editor-in-Chief was seeking contributions to early issues of the journal. He welcomed suggestions.


It was noted in discussion that the journal could be linked on the Web to records of:

         New disease epidemics

         Threatening regional diseases

         Epidemics likely to affect food security


The journal would be a source of extra income for the Society, and this could be used to fund other activities such as the scholarships discussed earlier.


3.3 Fund raising


A number of questions were raised:


         Should the Society go out and actively solicit funds for the Challenge Programme and a Scholarship Fund?

         Could we identify someone with the capability to coordinate fund raising?

The President of ISPP should take a lead, and discussion should follow with her.

       The FAO website has listed meetings on Climate Change and Food Security. Could these be good Funding-raising opportunities?



4.1 Review of Task Force activities


It was agreed that Activities 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 should remain as an adequate description of the  programme of the Task Force.


4.2 Membership of the Task Force


There was a need to check the current membership list to confirm that members wish to continue to be part of the Task Force.



A meeting would be scheduled during ICPP 2013.


An earlier opportunity to meet could arise. For example, the next Asian Regional Conference of Plant Pathology is in Darwin in 2011, and the Executive Committee of ISPP may meet then.



Emmanuel Moses agreed to determine when the next African Union meeting of Heads of States will be held. Peter Scott would be alerted, to assess the possibility of making useful contacts.


Task Force members commended the Chairperson, Peter Scott, and Editor-in-Chief, Richard Strange, for their activities, especially in establishing the journal Food Security.


The meeting finished at 5 pm.