The increasing global population continues to put pressure on food supplies. Combined with the impacts of climate change and global trade, which have increased the spread of plant pests and disease, this raises concerns about global food security.

Seed is the basic unit of crop production and therefore, food production. Seed-borne pathogens may cause disease or death of plants resulting in yield reduction. In addition, seed is produced and traded across the globe and can carry and spread pests and diseases very efficiently to key production areas.

Fera scientists are leading a major EU-funded project (TESTA) which will look at how and what pests and diseases are transmitted by seed, together with the reliable detection and disinfection of contaminated seed, thereby helping to boost yields.

One of the partners in the project is Prof. Terry Aveling, the chair of the Seed Health Committee for the International Seed Testing Association. The Association’s involvement will ensure that results of the project are focussed on global needs and are available for use by seed testing laboratories around the world.