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Symposium focuses on threats to agriculture, natural resources - Friday, October 16, 2009
Scientists and professionals who are working on the frontlines of biosecurity research will gather at Southern University on November 10-12, 2009, to uncover potential threats to our nation's natural resources and agriculture. They will participate in the University's third annual "Frontline Biosecurity Symposium."

The symposium will feature presentations and demonstrations from researchers at universities and federal and state agencies who are monitoring high consequence plant pathogens, insect pests, and invasive weeds that threaten our nation's agriculture and renewable natural resources, says Daniel Collins, professor of plant pathology and symposium organizer.

Because U.S. crop production and forest ecosystems are vulnerable to deliberate and natural plant pathogens and pests capable of causing significant economic damage, plant biosecurity protects plants from exotic pathogens or pests whether they are introduced intentionally by an agro-terrorist, accidentally, or by natural means, says Collins. This event is a key factor in preparing professionals in defending the nation and preparing students for plant biosecurity positions," Collins says, "this is an important venue which provides an opportunity to network with scientist and professionals addressing research, educational, and career opportunities."

The symposium is free and open to the public and media. Registration form, locations and schedules are posted online at

Workshop topics include:

    * Microbial Forensics and Plant Biosecurity
    * Sudden Oak Death: A Threat to Our Forest Ecosystems
    * Strategies for Safeguarding American Plant Resources
    * Food Biosecurity and Fresh Produce Safety
    * Training The Next Generation: Educational and Career
    * Opportunities in Plant Biosecurity

Scheduled to participate in the symposium are representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, USDA ARS and APHS offices, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry - Horticulture and Quarantine Programs, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, and Howard, Louisiana State, Oklahoma State, and Pennsylvania State universities.

Disruption of U.S. agriculture by the unintentional or intentional release of high risk plant pathogens would be catastrophic to the US/global economies and stability. Preparedness is a critical strategy in defending the nation against intentional or unintentional release of exotic plant pathogens that pose a threat to plants (crops) important to our nation's agriculture. Many reports have addressed the need to provide more post baccalaureate training, and experiential learning in plant health management at the U.S. Land Grant universities to counter the threat of high risk plant pathogens to our nation's agriculture. Land Grant Institutions, such as Southern University and A&M College, are key components in training the next generation of scientists and professionals in plant health management to protect our nation's domestic food supply, and renewable natural resources.

The Plant Biosecurity Symposium is sponsored by a grant awarded to Collins by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture 1890 Teaching Capacity Building Grants Program for enhancement of the M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs in urban forestry at Southern University through plant biosecurity training.

For more information, contact Collins at (225) 771-2262 ext. 268 or