It is a great honour for me to have been chosen as the President of the organisation (2015 to 2018) at the IAPB congress in Melbourne in 2014. The newly appointed Executive and myself are delighted to have been given the opportunity to manage the IAPB virtual office over the next four years and to host the 14th International Association Congress in Dublin in 2018 (August 19th to 24th).
We live in challenging times with one of our main challenges being that of ensuring global food security. Pressures on safeguarding our food come from many quarters including massive increases in the human population, changes in the global climate, land and water availability and the control of crop diseases (both old and new). There is therefore urgency in the need for the continual improvement of crop varieties to meet these challenges.
There is no doubt that technology has improved the quality of many aspects of our lives (from health to education and social) including in the area of crop and food production. The use of newer technologies for crop improvement, whilst welcomed in many countries around the world, is still anathema to some in Europe. However, in order to meet the demands of a burgeoning human population, the complex regulatory and acceptance issues surrounding the use of novel technologies in crop production from trans- and cisgenesis to the use of newer genome editing tools must be addressed.
By hosting the congress in Europe in 2018 we are afforded an ideal opportunity to highlight the main issues in Plant biology/biotechnology particularly, but not limited to food security, micronutrient deficiency, biodiversity and sustainability and to offer convincing discussion based on sound scientific evidence to Governments and the wider public, that these are serious threats that must and can only be addressed by sufficient investment in research, innovation and development.
The island of Ireland, on the western fringes of Europe, is ideally placed to host this congress both from a geographic and scientific perspective, offering as it does, a gateway between America and Europe (the last time this congress was held in Europe, over 2000 delegates were in attendance). The agri-food and marine sector in Ireland is a major part of our economy with an annual output of close to €26 billion. We have a vibrant forestry sector where annual afforestation rates are in the region of -7000 hectares per annum with > 10 % of land area in Ireland now under forest cover.
The Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence, Mr Simon Coveney said recently ‘I wish to offer my full support for this venture. The plant biotechnology field is clearly of importance to Europe’s agri-food and wider bioeconomy sectors. There has been substantial public investment in agri-food research in Ireland over the last 14 years’.We look forward to welcoming you all to Dublin in August 2018 (19th to 24th) for what promises to be a great congress with excellent presenters, vibrant discussions and a memorable social program.
Membership of our IAPB organisation is truly global spanning over 89 countries. If you would like to become a member please see www.iapbhome.com for more details.
Barbara Doyle Prestwich
President, International Association for Plant Biotechnology
Journal of In Vitro Cellular
The official publication of the IAPB is the Journal of In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant.More Details