First International Plant Health Day
I'm asking all those planning holidays overseas not to carry plants, seeds, fruits or vegetables home.
On the very first International Plant Health Day, as Minister with responsibility for Land and Biodiversity, I'm asking everyone to play their part in maintaining Ireland’s plant health status.
I want to remind everyone not to bring plants, seeds, fruits or vegetables home from holidays abroad. Keeping plants healthy is essential for life on earth and all of us have a role to play. Pests and diseases can hide on plants and on plant material.
According to the Food and Agriculture organisation of the United Nations, plants make up 80% of the food we eat and 98% of the oxygen we breathe and yet they are under threat. Globally, up to 40% of food crops are lost due to plant pests and diseases every year. This is affecting both food security and agriculture, the main source of income for vulnerable rural communities.
Climate change and human activities are altering ecosystems and damaging biodiversity while creating new niches for pests to thrive. International travel and trade, which has tripled in volume in the last decade, is also spreading pests and diseases. Thankfully Ireland is recognised as having a favourable plant health status at present.
Ireland’s plant health status is due to the fact that many of the plants and diseases that are present elsewhere are still absent here. On this International Day of Plant Health I ask everyone in Ireland to play their part in maintaining Ireland’s plant health status. Please be aware of the social, economic and environmental impact of bringing infected material into Ireland.