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


FoPD 2020  will be ongoing in some countries, led by the respective National Coordinators, while respecting  the regulation and restriction regarding the coronavirus.

We invite you to post your FoPD news on Twitter with #FoPD and #PlantDay.

FoPD also has a new Instagram account @fascinationofplantsday. You can follow us for updates on FoPD as well as on our Facebook and Twitter.

We invite the FoPD National Coordinators and event organisers to send pictures and/ or short videos of your activities last year and as appropriate this year in your language (plus English if needed) to raise awareness on this Instagram.

Contacts : Alexandra Barnoux, Publications Officer & Ronald Tipan, Communications Officer

Strasbourg: 8 April 2020

The European Research Council (ERC) Scientific Council has made a clear statement on 8 April about the reasons that led to their unanimous vote of no-confidence in Mauro Ferrari as ERC President on 27 March.

Mauro Ferrari announced his resignation on April 7, three months after starting in his new position. Prof. Ferrari’s statement published by the Financial Times presenting his decision as having been triggered by the rejection by the ERC governing body of his proposal to allocate ERC resources for top-down funding of research related to COVID-19, contrasts the ERC SC statement.

ISE, the Initiative for Science in Europe, supports the ERC Science Council’s view that it is not for the ERC to engineer a quick response to this crisis. A move to top-down funding would be fundamentally at odds with the mission and the spirit of the organization. The ERC already funds projects related to coronaviruses; this recently published list illustrates the point that basic research is the best long term preparation for new challenges. In all of the research groups with a competence in virus research, including those funded by the ERC, researchers are working round the clock on SARS-Cov-2.

ISE strongly supports the values and mission of the ERC. More than ever now is its role for European research relevant to address global challenges. We praise the results achieved so far and are confident about ERC’s positive and long-lasting impact on Europe.

Contact: Professor Martin Andler, President of the Initiative for Science in Europe , [email protected]

o Full ISE statement
o ERC Scientific Council statement
o EU supported Coronavirus research and innovation
o The European Commission will now initiate an identification process to appoint a new ERC President in accordance with the provisions of the legal acts on Horizon 2020. In the meantime, one of the three ERC Vice-Presidents (Eveline Crone, Fabio Zwirner, Janet Thornton) will take over the President’s duties on an interim basis. [KoWi, 8.4.2020]

Source : Initiative for Science in Europe (ise)

The European Commission invites European scientific and research community organisations to nominate high-level candidates to be put on the short-list of candidate-members for the Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors consists of seven members who provide high-quality independent scientific advice to the College of European Commissioners on specific policy issues. Members are nominated by the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation from a short-list that is to be replenished by the current open call and of which two new members will be selected to join the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors in November 2020.

A high-level independent identification committee will oversee the selection process for this short-list following a set of pre-defined factors and criteria. The group of candidates should e.g. reflect the broad range of scientific disciplines but also consider gender balance and younger next-generation leaders.

Nominations can be submitted until 15 June 2020.

Further information:

» Further information on the selection process and candidates‘ profiles

» Current members of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors

Source : EC, KoWi, 03.04.2020