The Global Plant Council – An International Voice for Plant Science
2013 Report by Barry Podgson
The world is facing a number of major challenges including feeding a growing population, mitigating the effects of climate change, identifying alternative energy sources and minimising biodiversity and habitat loss. To effectively solve or mitigate these current global problems will require plant science. However to effectively achieve these solutions will require an increase in the understanding of how plant research can contribute to global issues, such as food security, amongst our policy makers and funders.
In 2009 several national plant and crop science organizations around the world met for the first time to discuss world problems and how their scientists and organizations could help by increasing the impact of plant research and raising awareness about opportunities for crop improvement and sustainable agriculture. This was the birth of the Global Plant Council (GPC), which is now a coalition of over 20 plant and crop science societies from across the globe. The central focus of the GPC is to define and engage in coordinated strategies that impact the most critical global issues; world hunger, energy, climate change, health and well-being, sustainability and environmental protection. By working together to formulate a shared vision and allowing distribution of effort the GPC aims to:-
- Increase awareness of the central importance of plant science
- Accelerate progress in solving pressing global problems via plant science based approaches
- Facilitate new research programs to address global challenges
- Enable more effective use of knowledge and resources
- Provide a focus and contact point for plant science across the globe
Since 2009 the GPC has established itself as a non-profit organization and held annual meetings in Montréal Canada (2010), Qingdao China (2011), Jeju S. Korea (2012). These annual meetings have allowed the council to identify a number of strategic initiatives that will help provide plant based solutions to the global challenges we currently face including
- Biofortification of Crops – Improving the nutritional quality of current and new crops
- Digital Seed Bank – Maintaining, understanding and preserving the wealth of crop diversity for future generations
- Diversity and Yield Stability – Identifying strategies for sustainable agriculture such as perennial crops
- Sustainable adaptation to changing environments – Identifying strategies for crop improvement to deal with a changing climate
The GPC has also been working hard to establish a formal organisational structure within council. In May 2013 Dr Ruth Bastow was appointed as the new Executive Director of the GPC and she joins a recently elected executive board consisting of; Prof. Wilhelm Gruissem (European Plant Science Organisation) – Acting President, Prof. Henry Nguyen (American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America) – Vice President, Prof. Gustavo Habermann (Brazilian Society of Plant Physiology) – Treasurer, Prof. Kasem Ahmed (African Crop Science Society) and Prof. Zhihong Xu (Chinese Society of Plant Biologists).
By exploiting the expertise of this new management structure and working together with other key organisations in this global arena, the GPC is looking forward to fulfilling its role as a strong advocate of plant science at the international level.
For further information on GPC please contact Ruth Bastow, email@example.com