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August 28, 2003

Purdue the place for plant and crop security information

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University and the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) are helping educate emergency personnel and others about plant biosecurity.

A new EDEN Web site addresses hazard identification, surveillance, detection, and reporting of plant and crop security issues. Abigail Borron, a Purdue communication specialist working with EDEN, helped design the site.

"This site has information that's of interest to farmers, plant diagnosticians, Extension specialists and others with an interest in agricultural production and biosecurity," Borron said. "The hazard identification section is one educational resource that should interest everyone."

The hazard identification portion focuses on biological agents that are potential threats to plants and crops in the United States. The section includes a list of select viruses, bacteria and fungi not present in the United States but that could severely damage American agriculture if they appeared here, Borron said. The list was compiled by the Plant Protection and Quarantine program, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Other sections tell how to monitor plants and crops, notice abnormalities and report problems.

There also are sections geared toward Extension educators and plant diagnosticians.

"There's a lot of useful information on this site," Borron said. "Plant and crop security isn't something everyone thinks about, but it's something that needs to be addressed. "

The EDEN page also details the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN), a recently established nationwide plant detection and diagnostic system. NPDN includes five regional centers and the National Agricultural Pest Information System (NAPIS), housed at Purdue. Regional centers are located at Cornell University, the University of Florida, Michigan State University, Kansas State University and the University of California, Davis.

According to Eileen Luke, director of the Center for Environmental and Regulatory Information Systems at Purdue, which oversees NAPIS, the database maintains information from the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey, a network of state agricultural organizations and universities that survey for invasive species.

"The goal of the National Plant Diagnostic Network is to have a secure, reliable and efficient information and communication infrastructure that is able to store, retrieve and analyze data," Luke said. It's also a useful tool during a biosecurity incident, she said.

As a part of the new network, NAPIS will expand to collect data on plant diseases and other pests, said Jim Pheasant, NAPIS project leader.

The system will provide a national perspective on agricultural pests through dynamic maps and reports of plant pest distribution. Currently the pest information system houses 1.3 million records on more than 3,800 organisms, and that number will grow as the plant diagnostic network centers start feeding information into the national database. At present the regional centers are developing a uniform reporting and distribution system.

Writer: Kay Hagen, (765) 494-6682, kjh@purdue.edu

Sources: Abigail Borron, (765) 494-4390, aborron@purdue.edu

Eileen Luke, (765) 494-6613, eluke@ceris.purdue.edu

Jim Pheasant, (765) 494-9853, pheasant@ceris.purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/

Related Web sites:
EDEN Plant and Crop Security


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