15 August 2014
The recent AGM of the BioResources Group, on 20 May 2014, coincided with the 300th committee meeting of the group in its various forms over the years. Now covering all aspects of agricultural production for food and non-food uses, the group started life as a sub-group or 'panel' of the SCI Agriculture Group in 1950. The history of the group was fortunately well recorded for its 40th anniversary in 1994 by Maurice Green, a past Chair, who had been involved since its foundation.
The Crop Protection Panel was established amidst the excitement following the Second World War of the discovery during the war, but kept secret, of several innovative crop protection chemicals including the herbicides 2,4-D and MCPA, both still used today, and the insecticide DDT. Although DDT has a bad reputation nowadays, it was responsible for saving millions of lives by reducing insect-borne diseases and its inventor Paul Müller of Geigy (a Syngenta legacy company) was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1948. In his history, Maurice recounted hearing the ditty: 'An insect was heard to complain, "These scientists give me a pain." The cause of his sorrow ... was alpha-trichloro ... -dichloro-diphenylethane!'
In 1949, Agriculture Group had organised the 2nd International Congress of Crop Protection, which had been planned by the committee, not by teleconferences as is usually the case today, but over a series of dinners at the Trocadero restaurant in Piccadilly Square! The panel was so successful that it was granted group status in 1954, becoming the Pesticides Group. The inaugural meeting was presided over by Sir William Ogg, SCI President and Director of Rothamsted Experimental Station, who noted that: ' ... as a result of the Congress the Crop Protection Panel was established ... it was extremely virile ... and attracted many new members to the society ... elevation to Group status was justified and it will play an important part in the future of the Society ... ours is one of the least static of industries ... we must keep pace with the changes ... or we will be failing in our duty.' Wise words, which ring true to this day.
BioResources Group succeeded Pest Management Group, as Pesticides Group had become, in 2007 and in 2010 was pleased to welcome members of the mother-ship, Agriculture Group, which had fallen on hard times. At the 2014 AGM Dr Alan Baylis and Dr Len Copping were re-elected as Chair and Vice-chair, respectively. Dr Robin Blake was elected as Secretary and Dr Graham Matthews was elected as Treasurer. As ever, BioResources Group welcomes members keen to network and play an active role.
Chair, BioResources Group