21 January 2000

Flower power doctors are on the way

by Kate Melville

As most of us know plants get sick , just like humans. However aside from taking your ailing plant to the local nursery there was not a lot to do. However now thanks to the University of Florida, you can now rush to a Doctor of Plant Medicine (DPM).

This new three-year professional degree program will produce doctors of plant medicine who are being touted by Dr. George Agrios, DPM program director as having the same professional status as medical doctors and veterinarians. "Graduates are not expected to become researchers. Rather, they will be trained to diagnose and offer recommendations for control of anything from disease, insects, weeds or abiotic causes that adversely affect plant health. Prior to completion of the program, students must pass a comprehensive examination in plant pathology, entomology, and plant science. Following graduation, individuals must also pass an examination before a State Licensing Board."

While this has not been something that any of the Science A Go Go staff had ever considered as a career, or even as a story according to Dr. Neal Van Alfen, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of California. "Doctors of Plant Medicine will provide a much needed service to commercial plant maintenance companies, plant growers and homeowners while benefiting the general economy and better protecting the environment and water supplies in areas where they are employed."

So who are we to be skeptical of an education system that produces graduate Sanitation Engineers and Public-Order Officials (garbage collectors and public servants to you and me).