Growing risk? The potential impacts of plant diseases on land use and the UK rural economy

Professor Brian Ilbery and Dr Damian Maye worked on this major interdisciplinary ESRC RELU project, led by the University of Warwick and also involving the Imperial College London and the Food and Environment Research Agency in York.

The project aimed to develop a critical, interdisciplinary appraisal of the potential impacts of plant disease (food and non-food) on land use and the UK rural economy. Brian and Damian, assisted by Research Assistant Ruth Little, provided the social science inputs to the project and worked alongside plant pathologists, economists and statisticians. They used interviews, focus group meetings and workshops to gather the responses and attitudes of key stakeholders to the growing risks that plant diseases pose to food supply and the rural economy. Possible future scenarios were examined among supply chain actors in different food and non-food chains in selected parts of the UK. The project ran from 2007 to 2011 and some of the findings have and will be presented at national and international conferences.