Update: Plant Health News (01 Jul 15)

Pheromone trap in Uganda © CABI

Pheromone trap in Uganda © CABI

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including a reduction in banana yield in the Philippines due to the effects of El Niño on rainfall, a pest causing severe damage to tomato production in Nigeria and the use of pheromones to control insect pests in the field.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Expo visitors discover the plant clinic experience in Milan

Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann sits down with Nethenga Is

Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann of Switzerland sits down for a crop consultation with Nthenga Isaiah, a plant doctor from Zambia

For 3 minutes, you, too, can experience how smallholder farmers in over 30 countries receive the practical plant health advice they need to save their crops. This was the message shared with visitors of the live plant clinic session hosted by Plantwise at the Swiss Pavilion, Milan Expo on June 25. Plant clinics are one way Plantwise, led by CABI, is working to bridge the gap between smallholder farmers and the science-based knowledge to sustainably reduce crop losses from pests and diseases, which annually destroy 30-40% of crops worldwide. Plantwise exemplifies how public funding from partners such as the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and others can empower farmers to secure better yields, better incomes and better outcomes for their families.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (24 Jun 15)

Phytophthora species cause significant damage to natural and agricultural systems © Scot Nelson, via Flickr

Phytophthora spp. cause significant damage to natural and agricultural systems © Scot Nelson, via Flickr

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include the first report of the tomato russet mite in northern Chile, Cytospora species associated with walnut canker disease in China, and globalisation, the founder effect, hybrid Phytophthora species and rapid evolution causing headaches for biosecurity.  Read more of this post

Introducing APHLIS: The African Postharvet Losses Information System

APHLIS_Logo

Plantwise have recently been investigating APHLIS data, a great source of information on postharvest losses in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The system is run by a network of local experts who collect and supply data.  Using a shared database and a Losses Calculator APHLIS provide estimates of weight losses for cereal grains at a national and provincial level.  Read more of this post

Update: Plant Health News (17 Jun 15)

Coffee cherries in Thika, Kenya, photo by Rogiro

Coffee cherries in Thika, Kenya, photo by Rogiro

Contributed by Fiona Bunn

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the development of a new App in Kenya to help farmers select climate-smart seeds to maximise production, the use of drones to boost banana grower’s productivity in Columbia and new findings about how greening disease wreaks havoc in the citrus industry.

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Increased carbon dioxide levels in air restrict plants’ ability to absorb nutrients

1.Pollution over fields- could now be a threat to plant nutrition    (Photo by Ken Douglas )

1. Pollution over fields- could now be a threat to plant nutrition (Photo by Ken Douglas)

Contributed by Fiona Bunn

A recent study from the University of Gothenburg has shown that plants that are grown in air with a higher percentage of carbon dioxide (CO2) have reduced levels of nitrogen in their tissue, causing increased nitrogen deficiency and reduced growth. The study was conducted across four continents in large scale projects, and the plants showed the negative effects in all three major types of ecosystem: crops, grasslands and forests. The effects were even shown when fertiliser was applied, proving that CO2 restricts the plants’ ability to absorb the necessary nutrients, not the levels in the soil.  Read more of this post

Key decisions regarding pesticides at the Conferences of Parties of the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

Contributed by Melanie Bateman, CABI Switzerland

Key decisions regarding pesticides were made at the Conferences of Parties of the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. Picture taken by BRS MEAS

Key decisions regarding pesticides were made at the Conferences of Parties of the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. Picture taken by BRS MEAS

In May, the Conferences of Parties of the Rotterdam, Basel and Stockholm Conventions (Triple COPs) met in Geneva, Switzerland. These are the three major international conventions dealing with chemicals and hazardous waste at a global level, and one thing that they do is to list chemicals which the international community has found to pose a serious risk of harm to human health and the environment. Prior to this year’s COPs, hazardous pesticides already featured prominently in the lists of the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions, and the COPs in May considered the inclusion of additional pesticides in the lists of these two Conventions.

What chemicals are listed in the Annexes of the Stockholm Convention?
The annexes of the Stockhom Convention list chemicals which are persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. The 178 countries that are members of the Stockholm Convention have committed to eliminating most POPs from the environment, and therefore must take measures in this regard for the POPs listed in the Stockholm Convention Annexes.

At the meeting in May, the Stockholm Convention COP agreed to add the pesticide/disinfectant pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters to its list of POPs.

What chemicals are listed in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention?
Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention lists hazardous chemicals which its 154 member countries should only trade with a countries’ prior informed consent. Annex III chemicals have been banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons by two or more member countries and the Rotterdam COP has decided to subject the chemical to the prior informed consent procedure. Annex III lists pesticides by active ingredient, e.g. azinphos-methyl, and it also lists specific “severely hazardous pesticide formulations”, e.g. dustable powder formulations containing a combination of benomyl at or above 7%, carbofuran at or above 10% and thiram at or above 15%. Severely hazardous pesticide formulations are proposed for inclusion in the Rotterdam list by developing countries or countries with economies in transition and they are pesticide formulations that the countries have found to produce severe health or environmental effects under the conditions of use in their country, e.g. where safety equipment is not readily available.

At the meeting in May, the Conference of Parties of the Rotterdam Convention considered adding methamidophos and trichlorfon as well as severely hazardous formulations of fenthion and paraquat dichloride to Annex III of the Convention. In the end, only methamidophos was added. (Previously, severely hazardous formulations of soluble liquid methamidophos that exceed 600 g active ingredient/l were already listed in the Rotterdam Convention. Now the active ingredient is listed without reference to specific formulations.)

For those pesticides where consensus could not be reached for listing (trichlorfon and the formulations of paraquat and fenthion), Clayton Campanhola, FAO Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, commented that “hazardous pesticides are not helping countries to produce more food with less, on the contrary: if badly managed, they cause negative impacts on natural resources and the health of rural communities and consumers.”

What next?
As indicated above, listing a pesticide in the Annexes of either Convention implies action. The inclusion of a chemicals in the annexes of the Stockholm or Rotterdam Conventions can prompt policy makers in governments to take further steps such as updating the list of pesticides registered for use in the country. Likewise, Plantwise has updated its own Pesticide Red List – http://www.plantwise.org/pesticide-restrictions. Per Plantwise policy, plant doctors should not recommend the use of chemicals on the Plantwise Pesticide Red List.

For more information on the outcomes of the Triple COPs, visit the BRS Synergies website.

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