He gave an impassioned speech to delegates at a Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) conference, Plants to the Rescue, last week. Discussing "Plants and a Healthy Society", he said there was a desperate need for horticultural specialists to unlock the meaning of plants so that the public could better understand their value and importance for society.
Claiming that this need not be a complicated process, he highlighted educational programmes at the Eden Project, which give simple explanations that alter people's perceptions of how important plants are.
"We are in the front line of fundamental questions about how we are going to get through the 21st century," he said. "How have we managed to construct a world where we even need to have a conference like this?
"We are, in many ways, one of the most ignorant generations to walk the earth when it comes to our awareness of our own lives and dependencies."
With such an uncertain future, he added, it is vital that people know how important plants are to survival and it is the responsibility of government and specialists to help the public better understand relationships with plants and food.