Plant health is of global importance for sustainable and competitive agriculture and forestry sectors, as well as for the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems.
The full cost of organisms harmful to plants is difficult to quantify, as their vast negative impact has complex economic, ecological, environmental, social and health effects.
The most direct economic impacts of pests on the agricultural and forestry sectors are the loss or reduced efficiency of production and the costs associated with their management, including the costs of inspection, monitoring, prevention and response.
Trans-boundary plant pests also have significant negative impacts on global food security, which is nowadays of paramount concern and the most significant challenge facing mankind in the 21st century due to climate change, demand for energy, a growing population and increased pressure on natural resources.
Although it is estimated that a 50 percent increase in food production will be needed by 2050, currently a quarter of the world's crops are lost due to pests (insect pests, pathogens, weeds).
Protecting plants against the losses along the entire farm-to fork chain is critical towards meeting the food security agenda.
Globalisation, trade, climate change, and reduced resilience in production systems due to agricultural intensification have all played a role.
Protecting the environment and making sustainable use of natural resources are vital for maintaining ecosystem services, as well as for mitigating the effects of climate change on the spread of trans-boundary plant pests.
Pests can affect ecosystems services, directly through the removal of plants providing services, or indirectly through the effects of disease management activities (including pesticide application).
They can also change biodiversity patterns and disrupt terrestrial ecosystems and landscapes.
While controlling pests has become even more difficult, with EU policies restricting conventional pesticide use approaches (e.g. Directive 2009/128/EC on sustainable use of pesticides) and promoting Integrated Pest Management (IPM), current preventive measures (see Plant Health Directive 2000/29/EC) present limitations. A proposal by the European Commission for a regulation on protective measures against pests of plants, aimed at introducing better surveillance and the eradication of new pest species (COM(2013)0267 - C7-0122/2013 - 2013/0141(COD)) was adopted at a first reading by the European Parliament on April 15, 2014, and is undergoing the ordinary legislative procedure at the time of the EMPHASIS project start date.
Great pressure is now on farmers, governments, land managers and other stakeholders responsible for preventing and controlling native and alien pests in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and amenity plants.
There is a clear need to further develop improved prevention and integrated management measures to collectively respond to native and alien pest threats, and to maintain competitiveness of the agriculture, horticulture and forestry sectors, thus ensuring a global food security system that also protects biodiversity and ecosystems services in Europe and beyond.
EMPHASIS addresses this need by providing advanced practical solutions on the three internationally agreed key pillars to tackle outstanding plant pest challenges - Prediction, Prevention and Protection - by adopting a strategy for strengthening the connectivity between agricultural research and other system actors through a diversified, cross-cutting approach to participatory research and technology transfer.
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The “EMPHASIS’ Science with Farmers: call for early adopters” is an initiative in the frame of EU H2020 project EMPHASIS, it will give the opportunity to farmers and professionals working with them, all around Europe to learn about practical, innovative and experimental solutions developed by EMPHASIS.