Seabrook on ... Industry representation

Horticulturists in the UK are not numerous enough to require two professional bodies to represent them: indeed, when we had just the Institute of Horticulture (IoH), recruitment and generating funds were ongoing problems.

I pay £116 annual subscription to the IoH at the Institute of Biology (IoB) and £75 to the Society of Chemical Industries' (SCI) Horticulture Group. So far, more value comes to me from the SCI than the IoH, although it has to be said my O Level chemistry is stretched by many of the papers coming from the SCI.

The IoH's journal, The Horticulturist, is a quarterly publication, with this summer's volume carrying articles on the Shropshire Horticultural Society, future plans for the RHS and a progress report from the Way Forward Group, which was set up to recommend policy, strategy and a detailed business plan for the institute. Fortnightly, I also receive Chemistry & Industry, another magazine, this time from SCI. This gives an insight into international scientific research and the products which follow; everything from safer, more environmentally friendly pesticides, improved storage for fruits and vegetables, GM food, bio-fuels from algae and ethanol from corn husk.

A news story in The Horticulturist tells us the UK's two important life science organisations, the IoB and the UK Biosciences Federation, are minded to join forces. When such bodies as these are merging, it makes little sense for our energies to remain divided.

Horticulture combines art and science, and in a perfect world we would be linked to both IoB and the SCI. Before the IoH makes any decisions at its AGM on 20 September, Heather Barret-Mold asks for members' feedback.

On the past nine months' membership of SCI, I would not wish to lose contact with its valuable sources of information on international scientific research: I do feel, however, that our profession needs one worldwide horticultural association.

- Peter Seabrook is a gardening writer and broadcaster Comment at

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