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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 597: International Conference on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (Part II)


Authors:   J. Bernáth, The ISHS Board of Directors
Medicinal and aromatic plants have been increasing in importance to society continuously for the past 100 years. International trends projected to the 21st century indicate agricultural products having medical, health protection, nutraceutical, or other positive effects on life will increase in value in both an absolute and relative sense. The average annual volume of medicinal and aromatic plants utilised in EU countries (calculated on the basis of import figures), for instance, has increased by 21 percent since 1992, meaning that more than 100 thousand tonnes of drugs with $330 million US are used in traditional or processed forms. TRAFFIC International considers Hungary to be one of the main European producer countries for medicinal and aromatic plants used in Europe.
The organisation of the Conference, which was devoted to the Hungarian medicinal and aromatic plant sector in honour of the 100th year anniversary of research in producing these plant species, had both national and international backing. Medicinal and aromatic plants, especially for self-consumption have been grown in Hungary for many centuries. The intensified production of these species, however, began in the first years of the 20th century. In spite of the administrative, political, and economical contradictions existing in the former political systems, the production, processing, and trade of medicinal and aromatic plants became a successful sector of Hungarian agriculture. Some of the national products made with medicinal and aromatic plant produced in Hungary have been accepted, through critical inspection and examination, as a special Hungarian product, "Hungaricum," in the world market.
The main intention of this Conference, organised under the aegis of ISHS and Hungarian scientific associations (including the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Development) was to provide a world-wide overview of research results in medicinal and aromatic plants achieved in the past few years. The subject matter of the Conference was wide-ranging and included chemistry, biology, pharmacognosy, pharmacology, industrial production, and economics. At the same time, attention was given to the scientific and practical problems and the challenges for medicinal and aromatic plants in the coming century.
The Conference, held in the historical building of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, was according to comments received from both Hungarian and foreign participants, a great success. The outstanding highlights of the Conference included:
  • the first occasion, since the change in the political system of Hungary, for a large international meeting organised in Hungary on behalf of medicinal and aromatic plant scientists. The Conference attracted more than 400 participants from approximately 60 countries.
    It provided the opportunity for scientist and practitioners to introduce their recent achievements to representatives of the outside world.
  • the involvement of experts from different regions of the Charpathyan Valley into world-wide, scientific co-operation research on medicinal and aromatic plants. A total of 33 scientists from Yugoslavia, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Romania that previously lacked financial resources, participated in the Conference.
  • the medicinal and aromatic plant sector of Hungary became the centre of interest of international scientific organisations with an interest in medicinal and aromatic plant species.
    Leaders of International Society of Horticultural Sciences (ISHS) and the International Council of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ICMAP) attended and delivered plenary lectures.
  • the conference contained 293 lectures and posters, providing a multifaceted overview on scientific and practical results recently achieved in the medicinal and aromatic plant research.

The Conference also had the opportunity to visit the Research Station of SZI University, Department of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (Soroksár), the Experimental Station of National Institute of Agricultural Quality Control (Iregszemcse), and the Botanical Garden of the Research Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (Budakalász). During the visits, the participants became personally acquainted with studies of Hungarian scientists on gene-conservation, domestication, breeding, and production of medicinal and aromatic plants. Participants also had the opportunity for informal conversations with each other on scientific research and activities in their home institutions.
Based on the information accumulated during the Conference (conforming with introductory words of Dr. Zoltán Kovács, Secretary of State of Hungary) we concluded that the world-wide increase in utilisation of natural products requires new biological and economical development, and co-operative programs on medicinal and aromatic plants world-wide.
It was also concluded that production and processing of medicinal and aromatic plants should be one of the successful branches of horticulture in the future. To fulfil these requirements, however, the production systems need to be modernised and high quality propagation material must be provided to farmers. Technology related to cultivation, post-harvest processing, and product development must also be modernised. To stabilise production of medicinal and aromatic plants, new methods and techniques in world-wide marketing will need to be developed. The globalised, international co-operation exhibited in this Conference support the concept of the medicinal and aromatic plant sector continuing to develop and to play an important roll in the future on both national and international levels.

Budapest, July 2001.

Prof. Dr. Jenő Bernáth
President of the Scientific Committee of the Conference
Leader of Department of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
SZI University

This volume of Acta Horticulturae is Part II of the Proceedings of the International Conference on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Possibilities and Limitations of Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Production in the 21st Century. Invited and keynote speakers and selected authors of offered oral papers and posters had the opportunity to submit their manuscripts for publication in this volume of the series Acta Horticulturae. Submitted manuscripts were reviewed by the Editors and amended according to the referee suggestions prior to acceptance. The ISHS acknowledges the cooperation received from the Editors on reviewing the manuscripts which was a significant contribution to the overall quality of the publication.

The ISHS Board of Directors

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