The European Commission has published a Question&Answer on Covid19 and food safety.

It presents answers on the following areas: Risk of infection through food; Food production; Food at home, Member States recommendations, and Other sources of information.

Two examples
What is the risk of COVID-19 infection from food products?

Despite the large scale of the pandemic, there has been no report of transmission of COVID-19 via consumption of food to date. Therefore, as stated by the European Food Safety Authority1 , there is no evidence that food poses a risk to public health in relation to COVID-19. The main mode of transmission for COVID-19 is considered to be from person to person, mainly via respiratory droplets that infected people sneeze, cough or exhale.

Can I do something myself at home to minimise any potential risk from food conveying the virus responsible for COVID-19?

Yes. First, washing thoroughly your hands (See ECDC tutorial on Effective Hand-Washing8 ) with soap and warm water before and after shopping is particularly important as it will protect yourself as well as others. It is equally important to apply strictly the hygiene rules in your kitchen, that usually protect you from food poisoning. Store your food properly (any contact between the food consumed raw and cooked food must be avoided), discard outer packaging before storage (for example cardboard outers where there is an inner plastic package) while keeping track of key information such as maximum duration limits. Systematically wash fruits and vegetables with clean water, especially if they are not going to be cooked (COVID-19 will not survive cooking).

Avoid contamination by kitchenware (knifes, plates, etc.) by carefully washing them with detergent in between using them for different food ingredients. Respect cooking instructions (time, temperature) for food intended to be eaten cooked. Wash your hands with warm water and soap before you start preparing or cooking food, as well as after having prepared food. Fridge and kitchen surfaces should be cleaned routinely, though with increased frequency. The precautions against COVID-19 should not make you forget the classic rules to avoid food poisoning when you cook at home that still apply and which protect you from foodborne illnesses that would further burden the healthcare facilities.

The European Commission is reviewing its 2020 work programme in light of the coronavirus crisis and is expected to publish in the coming weeks, possibly on April 29, 2020 its updated work programme 2020.

According to Euractive, indications are that although climate policies remain broadly on track, it might include delays for some initiatives of the EU Green Deal such as the Farm to Fork Strategy and the biodiversity strategy because they are considered “less essential”.

Examples from the Euroactive article relevant to plant research and innovation are:

‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy (non-legislative, Q1 2020): Although this is considered “a very important initiative”, it should “also reflect the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to food security. This might make a postponement necessary,” the document states.

EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 (non-legislative, Q1 2020); “Adoption of the biodiversity strategy is envisaged for 29 April,” the document says. But the UN conference of the parties has been postponed and the UN ministerial will discuss biodiversity in September. “So while the absolute urgency may have receded current timing is desirable or shortly thereafter. It is closely related to the Farm to Fork initiative,” the document states.

Source : Euractiv, 15.04.2020

EFSA has launched a public consultation on the draft scientific opinion “Applicability of the EFSA opinion on site-directed nucleases type 3 for the safety assessment of plants developed using site-directed nucleases type 1 and 2 and oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis”.

The deadline for submitting comments is 27 May 2020. EFSA would appreciate if you could share this information with your contacts.

Find more information on EFSA’s work on new advances in biotechnology here:

Please contact [email protected] for any questions you may have.

EPSO will develop its submission with the EPSO Agricultural Technologies Working Group and the EPSO Representatives.

EPSO contacts: Ralf Wilhelm, Frank Hartung & Peter Rogowsky, AgT WG chairs

 

Further modifications to the calls under Horizon 2020 Work Package 2020 are happening.

They are available on our website for Members only in the updates to the WP2020 briefing. However, in addition we encourage scientists to regularly check the European Commission call pages to be exhaustive.

As example the following calls are concerned:

Source : EC, KoWi, 09.04.2020

 

Due to the coronavirus, the next joint conference by FESPB & EPSO Plant Biology Europe 2020 is postponed to 28th June to 1st July 2021, in Turin (Centro Congressi Lingotto).  Save the date!

 

Important dates

Please check the website regularly for updates and official announcements regarding new Abstract and Registration deadlines.

 

EPSO Young Plant Scientist Award

The two winners of the EPSO Young Plant Scientist Award for 2020 will have the opportunity to present their research during a plenary session of the Plant Biology Europe EPSO / FESPB joint congress in 2021.

  • Apolonio I. HUERTA was selected for his fundamental plant research and
  • Ann-Katrin BEUEL for her applied plant research.

EPSO initiated these awards to encourage the development of ideas and imaginative thinking in the plant sciences.