A context favourable to the emergence of plant health risks
The current context of intense international trade and climate change favours the introduction of exotic species which represent a major plant health risk. Epidemiological surveillance is therefore of considerable importance, notably because it can shorten the delays between the arrival of new pests and the initiation of appropriate and efficient management plans. Evaluating risks to plant health is an essential part of the crop and forest protection process, and the national Plant Health Epidemiological Surveillance Platform now constitutes a key element in the French system.
Recent crises, such as those triggered by detection of the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium in France, illustrate the need for a structure that is able to monitor and assess risks and advise managers on the measures that must be adopted to deal with this type of threat.
Anticipating threats to plant health to improve their management
The Plant Health Epidemiological Surveillance Platform was set up in July 2018 in the context of a ten-year framework agreement signed by six partners: the French Ministry for Agriculture and Food (Directorate General for Food), INRAE, ANSES, FREDON France, APCA (Chambers of Agriculture) and ACTA – agricultural technical institutes.
The platform’s missions focus on surveillance systems, expertise in plant health and scientific communication, sampling, the analysis and quality of data and the management of information systems. The scope of its activities could potentially cover any plant health danger or phenomenon which has or might have an impact on the health status of plants, as well as the unintentional effects of farming practices on the environment.
The Plant Health Epidemiological Surveillance Platform benefits from a coordination team, an operational team of eight staff members (epidemiologists, informatics specialists, statisticians, a web editor, etc.) and a governance and management structure. It is organised in working groups as a function of the risks under surveillance, and these groups include several INRAE scientists from the Plant Health and Environment Division.