EFSA, the European Commission (EC) and their partners in Member States of the European Union (EU)
are launching the #PlantHealth4Life campaign. The campaign promotes awareness of plant health and
its link with our everyday life.
Plants are the backbone of life on Earth: they provide us with the air we breathe and the food we eat. Today, plants are under heavy pressure due to climate change and human activities such as trade and travel. Plant pests can cause devastating economic and environmental losses.
For instance, a very dangerous pest is currently approaching the borders of Latvia and the European Union from Russia, posing a significant threat to ash groves - the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis). The Emerald Ash Borer can cause substantial economic damage, as the activity of its larvae under the bark leads to the rapid demise of the infested trees. In cases of severe pest infestation, the affected trees can wither and perish within a few years. The borer can spread over large distances transported in firewood, wood packaging materials, and other types of wood materials, as well as through host plants.
"Just like humans, plants can also fall ill. Plant diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and various pests, such as mites or nematodes. Globalization has many advantages, but at the same time, travel and global trade often contribute to the increase in plant diseases and pests in Latvia in areas where they previously did not exist. The emergence of new plant pests and diseases threatens the country's biodiversity. Plant pests and diseases can travel and move, being present on plants, flowers, seeds, fruits and vegetables, even if they look completely healthy and are accompanied by soil in their roots. They can reach Latvia on wooden pallets or by clinging to car tires," warns Kristīne Lomakina, the director of the State Plant Protection Service.
“Plant health is fundamental to our wellbeing and the environment. EFSA, the EC and Member States work together to protect the EU from plant pests and diseases. The #PlantHealth4Life campaign is a joint initiative to raise citizens’ awareness about plant health risks. By engaging individuals across the EU, we aim to create a collective responsibility to keeping plants healthy," said EFSA’s Executive Director, Bernhard Url.
“With One-Health being very high on the agenda of the European Commission, protection from plant pests and diseases coming into the EU is a priority for us all. The smallest actions can have the biggest effects. This starts with being armed with the right information and to make sure that everyone understands this fight and contributes in a meaningful way to the EU’s leading role in protecting our biodiversity," said Claire Bury, Deputy Director-General for Food Sustainability of DG SANTE.