After 1945, as Europe recovered from the devastation of war, plant pathologists with interests in the cereal rusts were keen to re-establish contacts with each other across Europe. At that time there was concern about the possible spread of stem rust, on a pathway from the Mediterranean area northwards in Europe. There was also concern about the spread of yellow (stripe) rust. There were several informal meetings between European workers concerned with these diseases. There was agreement among them that a more comprehensive system for exchange of information was desirable. In 1964 the first combined cereal rusts conference was held in Cambridge at the Plant Breeding Institute. Some famous names attended, including E. C. Stakman, and these are listed under a photograph of the participants in the Proceedings. The front page of the Proceedings records the meeting as comprising the Third European Yellow Rust Conference, First European Brown Rust Conference and Third European Colloquium on Black Rust of Cereals.
The purposes of the Foundation, given in the legal document by which it is registered were as follows:
A debt is owed by the rust workers of today to the foresight of those early post-war workers who recognised the need for an organisation for exchange of information about cereal rusts.