Plant pathologists to discuss the future of organic farming

June 22, 2004

St. Paul, MN (June 22, 2004) Organic farming is one of the fastest-growing segments of U.S. agriculture, with organic food sales reaching $9.3 billion in 2002. To ensure continued prosperity of this rapidly expanding industry, plant pathologists with The American Phytopathological Society (APS) are calling for additional organic farming research and adherence to established growing procedures.

Standards for organic food were implemented in 2002 and include the creation of National Organic Program Standards, which require producers to use a planned systems approach to crop protection, said Monica Elliott, professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida's Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. However, additional organic farming research and education are needed in order to maintain viable organic farming systems, she said.

Because California has the largest output of organic crops of any state, plant pathologists are looking to California's organic program as a model for organic farming programs nationwide. "Plant health scientists are working to meet the needs of organic farmers and the needs of consumers who want organic foods," said Elliott.

More on this topic will be presented during the Organic Foods-From Production to Market symposium at APS Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., July 31- August 4, 2004. This session, to be held Tuesday, August 3, 2004 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center, will examine organic agriculture from a plant pathology perspective and address questions regarding funding sources for organic agricultural research, plant diseases and control methods, and the function of the National Organic Standards Board.

A Sustainable Agriculture Day is also planned for Tuesday, August 3 at the Anaheim Convention Center. This one-day event will be devoted to the discussion of new developments in sustainable agriculture and will bring into focus the roles and accomplishments of APS members in this area. This event is open to everyone for a special one-day registration cost.

Members of the media are invited to attend annual meeting events and complimentary registration is available. The American Phytopathological Society (APS) is a non-profit, professional scientific organization dedicated to the study and management of plant diseases, with 5,000 members worldwide.
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American Phytopathological Society

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