EPSO submitted key recommendations towards the Strategic programming to the European Commission including:

1 – Clusters 1 (Health) and 6 (Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment (FBNRAE)) should jointly address Food and Nutritional Security (FNS) and Environmental sustainability and human health:

EPSO welcomes the link between Food and Health Clusters: 1) Crops without diseases, but with high plant secondary metabolite levels are beneficial for human health and help preventing diseases; 2) Plants in natural and cultured environments improve air quality and human wellbeing; Possibly add 3) Plant Made Pharmaceuticals contribute to novel medicines.

Keeping plants and animals healthy to supply safe food:  We suggest adding ‘Improving crops to prevent plant pests and diseases relevant to human health (e.g. fungi) is an important contributor.’


EPSO urges to give more balanced consideration to basic research in relation to the other components (applied research, demonstration and innovation actions) of the research and innovation cycle in pillar 2. We currently miss potential benefits from basic research (incl. questions from innovation to basic research), hindering ground-breaking solutions addressing the SDGs. This could be better balanced by encouraging collaborative basic research as component and / or focus of RIA projects. This will widen participation incl. EU13, close gaps in collaborative research and bridge between the Excellent Science and Innovative Europe pillars. It will help private companies who need to build on the explorative research.


Currently Europe’s position on New Breeding Technologies as laid down in article 2 of directive 2001/18/EC, which is binding for NBT, is not in line with the definition of Living Modified Organism as it is defined in article 3 (g) in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international agreement signed by 171 countries. Europe needs to have a more balanced approach to new technologies incl. improving the legislation and start flagship projects engaging all stakeholders from scientists, companies, farmers to end-users towards products with consumer benefits on the market in Europe and globally. In parallel to such projects, new concepts for deregulation, based on public-private risk and benefit sharing, need to be developed to enable SMEs bringing such products to the market. EPSO invites policy makers to exchange views on the current situation of genome editing in Europe and possible next steps to enable Europe better addressing climate change, achieving food and nutritional security and establishing a sustainable agriculture in Europe and world-wide.

4-Targeted impacts best / only reached through HE and suggestions to the content:


To 3.1 Staying healthy in a rapidly changing society: Add the concept of ‘diverse crops for diverse diets and human health’ and the goal of ‘nutritional security’ to healthier food choices, health promotion and disease prevention.

To 3.2 Living and working in a health-promoting environment: Add the ‘importance of plants’ for health and well-being in terms of agriculture, horticulture and forests.


To 3.4. Sustainable primary production, food and bio-based systems, FNS: Add ‘Diverse crops for diverse diets, human health and resilient production will become available.’ Sustainable, safe and healthy diets …a major shift to ‘diverse and’ healthy diets from sustainable food production systems ….

To 4.2. Biodiversity and Natural Capital: Link to increasing ‘cultured diversity’ in 4.3.

To 4.3. Agriculture, forestry and rural areas: Add the concepts of ‘improved crops’ (in addition to management approaches) and of ‘Diverse crops for diverse diets, human health and resilient production’.

To 4.5. Food systems: Link to the concepts of ‘improved crops’ (in addition to management) and of ‘Diverse crops for diverse diets, human health and resilient production’ in 4.3.

To 4.6. BBI Systems: Add to the use of nature’s “biological assets” ‘and improved crops, synthetic biology’…

5 – In general, the idea of the co-design process is very good and most welcome. We see better links between the clusters in pillar 2 and hope this will be translated into calls that are cross-clusters (or alternating led by always one of these clusters), which would be a major improvement versus the Horizon Europe programme.

The method of co-design could be easily improved by

  1. inviting free text contributions without set questions and only an overall text limit (e.g. 4 pages). Stakeholders would simply refer to certain chapters of the orientation paper on comment on these.
  2. Inviting umbrella organisations to participate in or recommend experts to the upcoming workshops the respective EC colleagues will organise to further develop and translate the Strategic Plan.

EPSO submitted these suggestions on 17.11.2019, to the EC: Horizon Europe online consultation for umbrella organisations regarding Orientations towards first Strategic Plan for Horizon Europe – vs 2 of 31.10.2019. the EPSO Contribution ID is 666b7610-ddca-4262-b4be-dc125b7ec2cf.

Contact : Karin Metzlaff / EPSO