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EnvironmentBelgium and Europe join forces to support plant health, biodiversity and the...

Belgium and Europe join forces to support plant health, biodiversity and the economy

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A broad coalition of partners from across Europe have joined forces to launch the second year of the #PlantHealth4Life campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the deep links between plant health and our daily lives. The objective? Stimulate citizen action to protect plant health. Belgium, through the Federal Public Service of Public Health, Safety of the Food Chain and Environment (FPS SPSCAE), is once again participating in the campaign led by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Commission (EC) and 21 other European countries.

How does plant health affect our lives?

Plants make up 80% of the food we eat and clean the air we breathe. But that’s not all: healthy plants mean good agricultural yields, which affects the availability and price of food for consumers. Climate change and human activities such as trade and travel are putting a lot of pressure on plants; The spread of pests and plant diseases can have disastrous economic and environmental consequences.

Think of Ralstonia solanacearum, a bacterium that puts potato production at risk, which represents more than 100,000 hectares of agricultural land in Belgium. Similarly, fruit flies (Bactrocera dorsalis) have a major impact on fruit and vegetable production and the trade chain, with potential losses amounting to €10 billion per year in the European Union.

According to Lieven Van Herzele, head of the Belgian plant health service (COPH) and head of the “Plant Protection” unit at the FPS SPSCAE:

Belgian citizens could be made more aware of plant health. This is where the #PlantHealth4Life campaign comes in: it promotes a collective awareness of the risks to plant health and pushes us to think about the role that each of us can play in protecting plants throughout Belgium and Europe, and taking action.”

Tobin Robinson, Head of EFSA’s PLANT HEALTH Unit, who will present the campaign at the “Plant Health Without Borders” symposium organised today in Brussels by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, said:

Plant health has an impact not only on the environment, the economy and the European food chain, but also on our present and future – by preserving plant health, we protect life. It is therefore a source of pride to see how Europeans are engaged in this area, as evidenced by the unprecedented participation of Member States in the #PlantHealth4Life campaign,”

Enlightened European citizens, armed with accurate information on plant health, can help protect and preserve our biodiversity” said Claire Bury, Deputy Director-General for Food Sustainability at DG SANTÉ. “Plant health is a priority for the European Commission under the One Health approach. By informing citizens about the importance of not importing pests into the European Union and by giving them the knowledge to take appropriate action, we can make a difference.»

Every European can do something about it!

The actions of every European are essential to keep plants healthy. Visit the #PlantHealth4Life campaign website  and find out how you can keep plants healthy. You will find resources available in all EU languages, including press materials, social media posts to share on your channels and videos.

You may find them useful, especially if you are:

  • a curious traveler who loves to explore the world and nature;
  • a gardener who grows and cares for his vegetables, flowers and trees at home, in his garden or on his balcony;
  • a parent, concerned about the food their children eat, and eager to protect farming communities, the environment, and biodiversity for future generations.

This year offers many opportunities to participate in the campaign, which will tour trade fairs, exhibitions and schools in the participating countries. Check the national page of the campaign website to see what’s happening in your country, and stay tuned for more information as it becomes available!

A multi-country campaign

#PlantHealth4Life is a multi-year, multi-country campaign designed at the request of the European Commission and based on an in-depth analysis of perceptions and behaviours related to plant health across the European Union, in which Belgium is participating for the second year in a row. This year’s campaign involves 21 Member States and one candidate country, doubling the reach of the previous year: Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Montenegro.

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