This international conference will be held on 18 – 22 January 2021 in a virtual format. It is  hosted by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) an will tackle key issues regarding the future of the global agri-food industry.

The programme is available at:

Participate to the Science Slam on 21 January 2021

A Science Slam will be held for the third time on the occasion of the 13th GFFA on 21 January 2021.

It will present four Science Slams of 10 minutes at most each connected with this year’s topic “How to Feed the World in Times of Pandemics and Climate Change?”. It should not only be characterised by scientific aspiration and originality but also by an entertaining and amusing delivery. Winners will be selected by the audience in the end in the form of an online vote.

Who can apply to the Science Slam? BMEL is looking for (junior) scientists and students from relevant research institutions and universities from the agri-food sector, who deal with this subject area and are interested in presenting a slam in English via live stream in front of a mixed audience.

For the GFFA Science Slam you can apply until 22 November 2020.

For more information:

Source: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture

EPSO presents its work on the contributions of plant science to the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity strategies, EPSO’s activities in different working groups such as Agricultural Technologies, Plants and Microbiomes and Nutritional Security, and science support. Make best use of our series of national plant research structure and funding for your bilateral collaborations, in this issue we feature The Netherlands. Finally note that Horizon Europe first Work Programme 2021-22 is expected end Q1 2021 and that the European Green Deal Call under Horizon 2020 WP 2020 is open.

The shorter public version of the Newsletter is available here.
Please, log in and read the full version available in the Members’ Only section.

The table of content


Plant scientists are ready to contribute to implement the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity strategies

EPSO activities

  • The EPSO Regional General Meetings 2020: virtually and concretely successful
  • Agricultural Technology Working Group meets next 24.11.2020
  • Plants and Microbiomes Working Group gathers online for its 3rd workshop- 13-14.01.2021
  • Nutritional Security Working Group
  • Call for EPSO Internship Experts and PhD student trainees
  • Fascination of Plants Day postponed from May 2021 to May 2022
  • PBE 2021 will be hold online 28/06-01/07/2021
  • SusCrop mid-term symposium of research projects and activities planned for 2021
  • Translating the Green Deal into Practice – R&I opportunities for sustainable food systems developed by three Technology Platforms

Members’ news

  • Welcome to the University of Padova as new member
  • CRAG obtains again the Severo Ochoa award and opens new calls
  • TOMRES — increasing water and nutrient use efficiency in tomato
  • CHIC – Chicory as multipurpose crop for dietary fibre and medicinal terpenes
  • CropBooster-P— towards a draft Roadmap to future-proof European crops
  • RESPONSE – 3rd call for PhD candidates open
  • Plant Science pushes boundaries and crosses borders at the James Hutton Institute
  • Phenomics Webinars: an initiative by IPPN, EPPN2020 and EMPHASIS
  • ENDOSCAPE- non-viral gene delivery technology using secondary plant metabolite
  • PSC virtual Symposium 2020: Connectivity–Plant interactions reloaded – 02.12.2020

National, European and global funding:

  • National Research Funding Opportunities in The Netherlands
  • The European Green Deal Call under Horizon 2020 WP 2020
  • Horizon Europe – Work Programme 2021-22 expected end Q1 2021

Career opportunities and (postponed) meetings

 About EPSO

 Contacts: Alexandra Barnoux & Karin Metzlaff, EPSO

To hold the fascinating events about the world of plants, which hundreds of colleagues organise across the world, as physical interactive events, the Global and National Coordinators of the international Fascination of Plants Day (FoPD) decided to postpone the next FoPD from 2021 to 18th May 2022.

The Fascination of Plants Day, initiated and coordinated by the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO), is brought to live by a team of National coordinators and hundreds of plant enthusiasts organising events. They invite everybody around the world to organise interactive events on the fascination, secrets, immense potential and manyfold uses of plants for your community, region, country around the 18th May 2022.

This ranges from basic to applied research, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, plant breeding, biodiversity, nourishment and nutrition, plant protection, environmental conservation, renewable resources, healthy and diverse food and high value products for medicine, cosmetics, food and much more.

Already 50 countries have confirmed their National FoPD Coordinators for 2022 and more are welcome to join in.

In 2019, the 5th FoPD generated over 860 interactive events in over 51 countries across the world with many thousand participants. Get inspired by The Fascination of Plants Day Success Stories 2019 for events you may organise.

Meanwhile, a group of FoPD National Coordinators will develop ideas to have some inspiring online events in 2021, the best option in times of remote working around the world, to share their enthusiasm and fascination of plants.

Looking forward preparing with you for most exciting events in 2022 and possibly see some interactive virtual events in 2021.

The FoPD Global and National Coordinators

Click here to read: Full EPSO news 16.10.2020


  • FoPD Global Coordinators: Karin Metzlaff & Alexandra Barnoux, EPSO; Trine Hvoslef-Eide, NMBU / NO; Przemysław Wojtaszek, AMU / PL
  • FoPD National Coordinators: click on the country of your choice.

The award honours a discovery made in basic research on bacteria, which has led to transformative applications in the plant and medical sciences. It is the first Nobel prize to be shared by two women.

In plant science, genome editing enables scientists and breeders to improve the whole range of plants, from fruit, fibre, and vegetable crops to legumes, cereals, and trees, on which people depend for food, health, and livelihoods. The method enables diversity enhancement and precise, targeted improvements leading to better nutritional quality, disease resistance, stress tolerance, and environmental sustainability for rapid advancement through breeding to farmers’ use. Even underutilised crops, on which critical-mass breeding efforts have not so far focused, due to their poor market share compared to the time and effort needed to improve them with classical methods, will benefit from the new genomic techniques. The resulting crops will contribute to environmental sustainability, very important in light of climate change, as well as to diverse diets and human health.

Plant scientists call upon policy makers to improve European legislation, so that the potential of genome editing to improve underutilised crops is unfettered from the substantial time and financial burden of the GM legislation to which it is currently tied. If genome-edited plants were only subject to the standard legislation any new plant variety has to follow, the diversity of cultivated crops as a whole, a main target of the European Biodiversity strategy for 2030, would be substantially increased.

Finally, the application of genome editing to neglected and medicinal species will help to explore and secure biodiversity, demonstrating its value by revealing the metabolic pathways of a large variety of bioactive secondary metabolites, which may for example have high potential in fighting against new diseases or against antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Click here to read: Full EPSO statement 07.10.2020, Nobel Prize PR, 07.10.2020


  • Alan Schulman, LUKE, FI & EPSO President
  • Angelo Santino, CNR, IT & EPSO Nutritional Security WG co-chair
  • Frank Hartung, JKI, DE & EPSO Agricultural Technologies WG co-chair
  • Kirsi-Marja Oksman-Caldentey, VTT, FI & EPSO Molecular Farming WG co-chair
  • Karin Metzlaff, EPSO


Topics on farm to fork, biodiversity and ecosystem services, zero-pollution and toxic-free environments, wildfire prevention, end-user products and citizen information could be relevant to plant scientists to team up with other disciplines and sectors.

The EPSO briefing on the EU Green Deal Call will help our members navigating this new call which differs in important aspects from previous Horizon 2020 calls. There are fewer, but more targeted, larger and visible actions, with a focus on rapid scalability, dissemination and uptake.  These should help pave the way for innovations in the ‘Horizon Europe’ Research and Innovation programme (2021-2027).

The formal adoption of the European Green Deal call as amendment to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020,  under the pillar Societal Challenges, was published on 17 September 2020 as update to the “Cross-cutting activities” Work Programme (starting on p. 62). It has a total budget of €983 million.

Deadline for submissions of proposals is 26 January 2021, with selected projects expected to start in autumn 2021.

All calls apply a one stage proposal submission procedure.

The 6 calls possibly relevant to plant scientists are under the following areas:

  • Area 1: Increasing climate ambition: cross sectoral challenges

LC-GD-1-1-2020: Preventing and fighting extreme wildfires with the integration and demonstration of innovative means (IA, CSA)

  •  Area 6: Farm to fork

LC-GD-6-1-2020: Testing and demonstrating systemic innovations in support of the Farm-to-Fork Strategy

 Area 7: Biodiversity and ecosystem services

LC-GD-7-1-2020: Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services (IA)

  • Area 8: Zero-pollution, toxic-free environments

LC-GD-8-1-2020: Innovative, systemic zero-pollution solutions to protect health, environment, and natural resources from persistent and mobile chemicals (RIA)

  • Area 9: Strengthening our knowledge in support of the EGD

LC-GD-9-2-2020: Developing end-user products and services for all stakeholders and citizens supporting climate adaptation and mitigation (RIA)

  • Area 10: Empowering citizens for the transition towards a climate neutral, sustainable Europe

LC-GD-10-3-2020: Enabling citizens to act on climate change, for sustainable development and environmental protection through education, citizen science, observation initiatives, and civic engagement (IA)

Read the full news item

Read the full briefing on the EPSO website ‘Members only’ section

Sources: EC, EPSO

Contact: EPSO members who need to renew their access to the EPSO members only website, please contact Sofia Ciravegna / EPSO.

EPSO welcomes the Concept and proposed actions towards a new ERA published by Commissioner Gabriel on 30.9.2020 and offers to collaborate in further shaping and implementing these. EPSO is focusing regarding the ERA for instance on critical mass investments in research and innovation, balancing basic, applied research, demonstration and innovation action support; widening participation; creating synergies between education and research; science outreach engaging citizens; and setting and implementing strategic priorities for Horizon Europe.

The New ERA is centered on excellence, inclusiveness, talents, and driven by innovation. To this end, the Commission identifies four main objectives:
1) Prioritizing investments
2) Improving access to excellence
3) Translating R&I results into economic value
4) Deepening the ERA.

The Commission commits to 14 actions to reach these goals. It will push for further in-vestment to reach the long-sought goal of 3% of GDP, and support EU-13 Countries. It will also improve synergies through common EU industrial roadmaps and update the governance of research infrastructures. It will support the transition to Open Science, with particular emphasis on Open Access and Open Data (European Open Science Cloud – EOSC). Gender equality and citizens science will also play a central role. Finally, by 2024, a new toolbox in support of researchers career development will be developed with the following components: (i) a Researchers Competence Framework, (ii) a mobility scheme to support exchange between industry and academia, (iii) targeted training un-der Horizon Europe and (iv) a one-stop shop portal. The toolbox will lead to the creation of a pipeline for talent.

EPSO is collaborating with European learned societies and research organisations in the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE) as a strong voice of the scientific community discussing with the European Commission and Member States recommendations for the ERA.

Click here to read: Full EPSO news 01.10.2020

Marco Masia, Executive Coordinator, Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE),
Karin Metzlaff, Executive Director, European Plant Science organisation (EPSO),