What is plant health? New ORC-led publication

The promotion of health is one of the leading principles of organic agriculture. As one of the founders of the organic movement, Lady Eve Balfour put it, “The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible”. However, while there has been an intensive debate on the notion of human health, there is much less clarity about health when plants are concerned, and this applies to both the organic and the conventional world. So, what is plant health? And how can we know when a plant is healthy? In an article published this month in the journal Plant Pathology, Thomas Döring of The Organic Research Centre and co-authors review current concepts of plant health. As the review points out, the current use of the term is often ambiguous and misleading. However, no single perspective is without inherent contradictions. Instead, by combining contrasting approaches it is possible to provide a comprehensive (though fuzzy) concept. Rather than giving a new definition of plant health, the review suggests a range of questions that need to be answered in debates on plant health issues and how such debates could be organized.

Döring TF, Pautasso M, Finckh MR, Wolfe MS. 2012. Concepts of plant health – reviewing and challenging the foundations of plant protection. Plant Pathology 61: 1-15. Doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3059.2011.02501.x

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