Plant health division sees changes following restructure

The head of Defra's former Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) plant health division, Stephen Hunter, is believed to be leaving to work for Defra's fisheries department.

Meanwhile, former plant health and seeds inspector Medwin Bew is retiring following the formation of the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) on 1 April.

David Slawson is in charge of diagnostics and Phytophthora ramorum at the new agency, which replaces the PHSI and other bodies. Adrian Belton runs the agency.

Defra refused to comment on personnel changes.

Meanwhile, the French representative at a European Commission committee on plant health asked for a fresh review of the policy on P. ramorum.

A Defra representative said: "A general discussion was held at the February meeting of the European Commission standing committee on plant health about whether the current emergency measures for Phytophthora outbreaks should become more long-term measures.

"The committee reviewed the EU Pest Risk Analysis (see for P. ramorum. All member states, including France, contributed fully to the meeting."

The representative reiterated there were no plans to compensate growers who have lost stock to the disease and that Forest Research will not become part of FERA.

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