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Food security prime national priority
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-11 22:49

Plant protection should contribute to sustainable and environmentally sound agricultural production processes that effectively control pests and diseases, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said Tuesday in Beijing.

Speaking at the opening of a week-long 15th International Plant Protection Congress, Hui said that plant protection and control of agricultural biological disasters are important to world food security and to harmony between humans and nature.

While crop disasters threaten to inhibit steady and sustained agricultural development, their control should be conducted without harming the environment and natural resources, Hui told the meeting, which attracted more than 2,000 delegates from some 50 countries and regions.

China has attributed its increased grain production partly to efforts in plant protection, such as disseminating advanced, integrated pest and disease control technologies, Hui said.

Despite growing efforts in pest management, China suffered losses of at least 16 million tons of grain to various pestilence and diseases last year, according to a statement issued at the meeting.

"China will continue to strengthen plant protection and actively participate in international co-operation in this regard," Hui said.

Hans Herren, president of the International Association of Plant Protection Sciences (IAPPS), said plant health management issues are at top of food security agenda for the new millennium.

"The world will have to double its food, feed and fibre production in the next 25 years. In order to do this in a sustainable and efficient manner, this will mean primarily less pest-induced losses," he said.

Sponsored by IAPPS and organized by the China Society of Plant Protection, the quadrennial International Plant Protection Congress is the first great gathering for plant protection in the 21st century.

During the week-long gathering, scientists are expected to debate a host of hot issues, including food safety and prevention of new species of pests,according to the meeting sources.

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