EPSO’s mission is to improve the impact and visibility of plant science in Europe, particularly to:

Promote plant science and support plant scientists

Discuss future plant science programmes across Europe

Provide authoritative source of independent information on plant science funding and advice to policy

Promote plant science research to meet the 21st century challenges in breeding, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, plant ecology and sectors related to plant science

Because plants matter

Plants matter

  • Photosynthesis fuels all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and is the ultimate source of all our food.
  • Plants are essential for ecosystem services by, for example, preventing soil erosion and maintaining quality of watercourses.
  • Plant populations are crucial to the amenity value of forests, grasslands and agricultural environments.
  • Plant communities are extremely vulnerable to climate change.
  • Most of the cultivable land in Europe (and globally) is devoted to agriculture.  Wise judgements about coexistence of wildlife and agriculture require scientific evidence.
  • A better understanding of plants is vital for sustainable human existence.

Imagine a world without plants! Not very attractive, is it?


Plant matter matters

  • Plant yields are critical to farming, food and biomass energy production.
  • In 2010, ~ one billion people have inadequate food. Enhancing crop yields and quality can reduce food prices and malnutrition, and enhance rural incomes.
  • Plants provide timber, fibre (cotton), animal feed, high value substances (fragrances, aromas, pigments), oils, grains, fruit, vegetables, flowers, biomass for energy, and new sources of sustainable chemical feedstocks.
  • Plant-derived chemicals play a vital role in preventive medicine.
  • Plants take CO2 out of the air and sequester carbon above and below ground


EPSO goals

  • Biology education needs to properly instruct pupils, students and the public of the importance and properties of plants. Teaching should recognise the contribution of plants to discovery in biology, such Mendel’s Laws in genetics.
  • European agencies and individual governments should fund high-quality pan-European plant science projects, irrespective of nationality, and neither requiring nor excluding industrial participation. Currently, different programs enable different subsets of EU nations to participate in projects with each other, but exclude certain countries from working together.
  • The EU Framework programs must have a strong plant science component, and as well as applied projects, should help drive exciting discoveries that create new and unexpected opportunities for valuable new technology.
  • World food supplies are more vulnerable than most realise, and will become more vulnerable; strengthening plant science is critical to future advances in crop yield.
  • Plant breeding is critical to improved crop yields, but is declining in the public sector. Private breeders are having difficulty recruiting new breeders because so few are being trained. Public sector breeding and germplasm improvement must be revived.
  • Biotech (GM) traits are being deployed worldwide to solve weed and insect problems in crops, and to improve drought tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency and disease resistance.  EPSO urges a case-by-case appraisal of individual biotech traits, focusing on the quality of the crop trait rather than the method used to improve it.
  • We should seize the huge opportunities afforded by plant science (including GM) to improve the quality of the human diet.
  • Plant and crop evaluation policy should be evidence-based.

EPSO will cooperate with other organisations to advance these goals.


The association was founded in 2000 to represent the needs and interests of European plant science. EPSO discusses with the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament and national politicians recommendations on European and global science policy.

EPSO is a key driver in plant science ensuring that appropriate funding in terms of content and critical mass is available for plant research in European Research and Innovation programmes (FP6, FP7, Horizon 2020, & Horizon Europe 2021-27) and to foster ERA-NETs in plant sciences, being an observer of the ERA-Nets on Molecular Plant Sciences (ERA-CAPS) and on Sustainable Crop Production (SusCrop).

In 2004, EPSO together with EuropaBio started one of the first European Technology Platforms ‘Plants for the Future’ (Plant ETP). In 2007 the platform published its Strategic Research Agenda presenting a vision of plant research for the next 20 years and identifying challenges for Europe’s society and economy to which the plant sector can contribute. Today Plant ETP is composed of European Seed Association (ESA) and individual companies from industries, EPSO representing academia, and Copa-Cogeca bringing in the farming communities. Jointly they develop Action Plans on Research, Innovation and on Education and work on their implementation at the European and national levels to promote and advocate strategic research and internationally competitive research and innovation.

EPSO created the Fascination of Plants Day (FoPD) in 2012 and this biennial event is a global forum for the celebration of the wonders of plants and plant science. The seventh edition will be held around 18th May 2024 involving over 60 countries and hundreds of events worldwide. 

EPSO’s strategy is defined by the representatives at the General Meeting, further elaborated by the elected Board and implemented by its members and staff based on the EPSO bylaws.



EPSO Team & Board