The main points on the agenda of the Agricultural Technologies Working Group (AgTechWG) meeting on March 27th, 2019 in Milano (Italy) were the ongoing international discussions on Digital Sequence Information (DSI) and Synthetic Biology (SynBio), as well as the actions to be taken after the ECJ ruling on mutants generated by recent technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome editing.

In the context of the composition of new Ad hoc technical expert group (AHTEG) upstream of the COP15 in Beijing in spring 2020, it is important to bring the existing EPSO statements on DSI and SynBio to the attention of experts and governments. These statements defend the free access to DSI coupled with proportionate benefit sharing and promote the idea that SynBio is something else than just a list of biotechnology techniques. A task force of the AgTechWG will be active on DSI and two members of the AgTechWG were nominated for the AHTEG on SynBio.

Following up on the EPSO statement on the ECJ ruling, the AgTechWG discussed how to facilitate a dialogue between scientists and policy makers across countries to develop a future-ready regulation enabling the European public sector, small- and medium-sized companies and farmers to contribute more comprehensively to food and nutritional security and to use all available tools to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. In parallel, a brain storming was initiated to identify convincing examples of genome edited plants with strong benefits to farmers and/or consumers.