International Conference on Plants and Environmental Pollution (ICPEP-4)
Environmental pollution is
a problem both in developed and developing countries. Factors such as
population growth, industrialization and urbanization invariably place
greater demands on the planet and its limited resources stretch the use
of natural resources which are stretched to the maximum. Generation of
pollutants by day to human activity is much beyond the carrying capacity
of the earth. The trans-boundary nature of environmental pollution makes
it even more difficult to manage.
The gravity of the
situation demanded concerted and well coordinated efforts by the
international community to combat this menace to provide an
international forum and also to discuss and deliberate on the problems
and to suggest remedial measures to check them, led for organizing the
Fourth International Conference on Plants and Environment Pollution
(ICPEP-4). The Conference was jointly organized by International Society
of Botanists (ISEB) and National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI)
from 8th to 11th December, 2010 at NBRI, Lucknow, India.
The conference was formally
inaugurated by Dr. Ram Rajasekharan, Director, Central Institute of
Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow, in the presence of over 600
delegates from India, U.S.A., Japan, Philippines, Chile, Iran, Israel,
Australia, Denmark, Poland, Hungry, Botswana, Nigeria, Indonesia,
Mauritius, Taiwan and Italy. Dr. C.S. Nautiyal, Director NBRI and
President ISEB, presided over the function and welcomed the guests and
delegates. On this occasion, Dr. P.V. Sane, former Director of NBRI and
founder president of ISEB, and Prof. Sagar V. Krupa, Professor Emeritus
at the University of Minnesota, USA and Advisor ISEB, briefly addressed
the delegates and conveyed their blessing to ISEB, ICPEP-4 and NBRI. Dr.
K.J. Ahmad, Secretary ISEB, and Organizing Secretary, ICPEP-4, explained
the genesis of ISEB and ICPEP. In his inaugural address the Chief Guest,
Dr. Ram Rajasekharan gave a well illustrated scholarly talk on lipid
metabolism in plants.
The conference provided a
vibrant interactive forum for serious deliberations on the pressing
problems of pollution and the role of plants in its amelioration. The
issues raised during the Conference focused on global climate change,
fresh water, dwindling forests, biodiversity losses, GM food, emergent
ecological disturbances on plants, environmental issues and other
factors in environment and plant relation.
The deliberations during
the Conference revolved around the following themes:
1. Climate Change
2. Environment and
4. Plant Response to
5. Environmental Impact
6. Bioindication and
7. Plant Microbe
8. Waste/water Management
9. Environmental Issues
The keynote lectures were
given by Dr. P. Pushpangadan, former Director of NBRI and presently
Director General of Amity Institute for Herbal and Biotech Products
Development, Thiruvanathapuram and Prof. Viney P. Aneja, Head,
Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina
State University, USA. Dr. Pushpangadan emphasized the impact of climate
change on Biodiversity with special reference to medicinal plants. He
reported how the disturbances in seasonal cues has shown striking
variation in phonological events like vegetation pattern, phenology and
distribution which is effecting harvesterís and cultivatorís
requirements and condition to grow/collect medicinal plant species.
Prof. Aneja discussed impact of agricultural emissions on human and
regional health. He deliberated how agri-emissions vary in space and
time and how they interact within the various processes and media.
According to him the research priorities include the quantification of
point and non-point sources, the biosphere-atmosphere exchange of
ammonia, reduced sulphur compounds, volatile organic compounds,
greenhouse gases, odours and pathogens, the quantification of landscape
processes and the primary and secondary emissions of particulate matter.
The session on "Climate
Change" dealt with the issue of deteriorating air quality and changing
climate and its impact on different Ecosystems. Emphasis was on changing
scenario in agriculture, forest, grassland and aquatic system and
assessment of carbon stock in plants and soil. Quite a few presentations
were made on the impact on biodiversity and the methods to mitigate the
effect of climate change.
The lectures in the session
on "Environment and Biodiversity" mentioned the alteration in
biodiversity at the local, regional and global scale due to the changing
chemical status of the environment. Emission of gases and particulate
containing toxic substances adversely affect the vegetation e.g., algae,
lichen, ferns, trees etc. and even microbes. Loss in diversity has many
unfavourable implications related to biogeochemical cycles. It was
clearly emphasized that the current problems of pollution and global
climate change is affecting the biodiversity which in turn is affecting
the community stability.
A session on "Environmental
Biotechnology" was held to understand the genomic basis of the responses
and adaptation of plants/forest trees to climate change and
environmental pollution in order to develop and use genetically improved
plant varieties and to conserve and sustainably manage well adapted,
genetically diverse and healthy plant/forest genetic resources. The
highlight of this session was a Panel Discussion on "GM food", where the
panel discussed on the opportunities, effect and challenges of the
Genetically Modified (GM) food crops. Dr. Rakesh Tuli, Executive
Director, National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute who was the key
speaker at this session strongly defended the application of GM
technology in enhancing agricultural productivity and disease control.
The fourth session was on
"Plant Response to Environmental Pollution" where talks were focused on
the interaction of elevated pollutants with different media and their
impacts on plant System.
The session on
"Environmental Impact Assessment" dealt with the assessment of
environmental Impact on the Ecological integrity of water, soil and air
environment and their effect on the Biological Systems. Discussions were
also held on the beneficial and deleterious effects of pollutants
coupled with local and regional meteorological variables.
In session dealing with
"Bioindication and Bioremediation" various presentations discussed the
role of plants like algae, lichen, mosses, soil and microflora, ferns,
as well as the plant parts (leaf, pollen), and even enzymes for
biomonitoring air, water and soil pollution. This session also
highlighted the phytoremediation and bioremediation capacity of
different plants and microbes, which could be used for remediation of
pollutants especially metals/metalloids.
The seventh session was
"Plant Microbe Interaction" emphasizing the role of microbes in the
changing environmental conditions. There was an interesting report on
the role of Escherichia coli, a known pathogen, as a natural plant
growth promoting soil bacterium. Deliberations were also held on the
importance of microbes in biodegradation of difficult to degrade
pollutants like metal, pesticide and other agro-chemicals.
"Waste/Water Management" session the lectures dealt with the
eco-technologies for waste and water management through plant system.
Deliberations were also held on the eco- friendly technologies for
recycling the municipal and hospital solid waste.
"Environmental Issues" took up the matters related to importance of
ecosystem services, environmental education, development of eco-friendly
technologies, disaster management, biofuels, biopesticides etc.
Presentations were also on the Legislations and Policy for sustainable
development. Role of mass-Media in generating environmental literacy
among masses was also discussed.
A valedictory function was organized
after the scientific session on the afternoon of 11th December, 2010
wherein Dr. C.S. Nautiyal, Dr. P.V. Sane, Dr. K.J. Ahmad, Prof. S.V.
Krupa and some of the participants expressed their views about the
outcome of the Conference. Conference recommendations compiled by the
Apex and Advisory Committee was read by Prof. Krupa who finalized them
after taking inputs from the delegates.
- There is a need to identify: (a) the key and
emerging areas of the environmental concern associated with the mission
of ISEB, and (b) recognize the leading scientists internationally in the
areas of present and predicted future concerns, establish a linkage of
communication and cooperation and seek their advice on a regular basis.
- There is a need to emphasize environmental education and outreach at
the local level by providing the required scientific communication with:
(a) the public media, in particular as it relates to both urban and
rural communities, and (b) informal and formal education at all levels
ranging from young children to post-graduate students at the college
- There is a need to highlight the benefits of "traditional
knowledge" by the exchange of ideas, for example through EnviroNews, a
quarterly newsletter of International Society of Environmental
- There is a need to create opportunities for better
interactions among students attending the conference (perhaps a student
discussion session to share their academic experiences).
- There is a
need for the continued development of modern methods of plant production
as it relates to environmental pollution and communicating their
advances and application to the user community, the rural population.
- There is a need to actively sustain the very important and effective
role that ISEB and ICPEPs have played in environmental conservation in
India and other developing countries. Such an objective can be achieved
in the future by the responsive and close collaboration of emerging
younger generation of scientists at NBRI and other institutions
dedicated to the mission of ISEB, with the guidance of senior scholars
that have been so successful in making ISEB recognized internationally.
- There is a need to initiate and organize the quadrennial ICPEP
(ICPEP-5) in 2015 to maintain continuity, transfer and exchange of
knowledge with the associated scientific and user community as they
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