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........ published in NEWSLETTER # 48

by Professor E.C. Tjamos, University, Athens (Greece)

Plant diseases have been ravaging the world's crops since agriculture began. Intensification and continuous cultivation to feed an increasing world population have resulted in increased disease pressure. By recent estimates, plant diseases of economic crops alone cause a worldwide annual loss in production of 13 - 20 percent, representing 50 billion US-Dollars. Chemical pesticides are used to some extent for control of plant diseases. However, it is now known that pesticides solve some disease problems, but create new ones: Pesticides cause environmental pollution; some of their residues, found in the food chain and in water, may cause human diseases including cancer; pesticides may make the microbes that cause disease more resistant to the chemicals; and pesticides are very expensive to produce and register for use. Because of current political, environmental, and economic considerations inherent in the use of chemical pesticides, the need to develop disease control measures as alternatives to chemical pesticides, such as biological control using beneficial microorganisms to destroy or reduce plant disease- causing microbes, has attracted the attention of major scientific meetings and symposia, including the recent international symposium sponsored by NATO. The Proceedings of this symposium, held in Cape Sounion, Greece, in May 1991, published by Plenum Press as a book entitled `Biological Control of Plant Diseases: Progress and Challenges for the Future' (NATO ASI SERIES A230), is a landmark publication on biological control and on other methods of plant disease control. The meeting brought together the foremost experts on biological control of plant diseases from 22 countries. The Proceedings, summarizing all the up-to-date information on bio-control, a very timely subject, constitute a major source of information for an upcoming and promising control technology.

Since previous volumes of the NATO ASI SERIES are not related to biological control of plant pests, except perhaps in very general terms, additional efforts should be made to promote the following topics: 1) Integrated control of plant diseases (combination of biological, cultural, and genetic control measures with pesticides used only in small amounts and if absolutely needed); 2) Genetic approaches (both for plants and microbes) to reduce plant losses from diseases; 3) Biological control of insects and weeds; and 4) A follow-up of the 1991 Symposium in Cape Sounion to determine practical progress in the field.
Reference books: A10, A22, A37, A117, A230, G15, G19, H1, H4, H27, H28, H41

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