On 3 November 2020 EPSO member-scientists and policy makers from ten countries across Europe held the third open-minded, informal meeting to assess the situation for research and development on New Plant Breeding Technologies (NPBTs) after the ruling of the ECJ in July 2018.

They exchanged views on the current situation of genome editing (GE) in Europe and possible next steps to enable Europe to better address climate change, achieve food and nutritional security, and establish a sustainable agriculture in Europe and world-wide. Such steps should bring the discussion forward on the EU legislation and facilitating potential flagships. The meeting was held under Chatham House Rules.

The next meeting will be held in May 2021.

As explained in our statement of 19.2.2019, EPSO offers to collaborate with policy makers to develop an appropriate future-ready regulation to enable 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. Notwithstanding the technical option retained, EPSO supports a science-based revision of the present European legislation establishing a more proportionate product-based risk assessment. EPSO is also willing to contribute to the societal debate on genome editing and to communicate in a fact-based and yet accessible manner about innovative plant science and its societal role.

Ralf Wilhelm, Jens Sundstrom, Alan Schulman, Ernst van den Ende and Karin Metzlaff

 Read the 3rd meeting report


  • Ralf Wilhelm & Jens Sundstrom, EPSO Chairs WG Agricultural Technologies
  • Alan Schulman, EPSO President
  • Ernst van den Ende, EPSO Board
  • Karin Metzlaff, EPSO Executive Director

This interactive event aims to exchange about farmers’ needs and upcoming practical solutions to soil health problems and to discuss what needs to be done for farmers to take them up. The target audience includes farmers, land managers and researchers.

In addition, the event can serve to expand your networks and to discuss future collaborations.

Express your interest  until 14.02.2021 via the call for participants to join the online seminar ‘Healthy soils for Europe: sustainable management through knowledge and practice’  on 13-14 April 2021.  It is organised under the soil mission “Caring for Soil is Caring for Life” launched by the European Commission in September 2020.

Please find the programme outline on the event webpage.

Specific objectives of the seminar:

  • Raise awareness of the importance of soil health and introduce various EU initiatives undertaken to preserve it, such as EJP soil and the proposed EU mission “Caring for Soil is Caring for Life”.
  • Promote and build upon the results and outcomes of past EIP-AGRI networking activities such as Focus Groups on soil-related issues and relevant workshops.
  • Share experiences and good practices to maintain soil health, identified by relevant projects, research activities and farmers.
  • Identify synergies between different types of projects working on soil health and encourage further cooperation among participants through networking.
  • Discuss challenges and solutions for soil health, and identify what is needed to make these solutions operational for farmers, foresters and other land managers, and make them widely used/adopted.

Contact the organising team: [email protected] or Andres Garcia Lamparte, Task Manager EIP-AGRI Seminar, [email protected]

Want to know more on EIP-AGRI Network? www.eip-agri.eu
Source: EIP-AGRI

The Plant Biology Europe conference 2021 is turning 100% virtual.

From June 28th, 2021  to July 1st 2021 the full virtual congress with keynote speakers, oral communications, posters and sponsors will be available on-line for all the registered participants.


  • 30 MARCH 2021: End of the early bird registration
  • 30 APRIL 2021: Deadline for submitting poster abstracts for PBE 2021

Registration fee includes:

  • Program
  • Admission to the scientific sessions
  • Certificate of attendance
  • Registration of Students and PhDs must be accompanied by a written proof of status, otherwise reduced fee will not be validated.

New reduced registration fees are:

EARLY by March 30th, 2021 LATE after March 30th, 2021
Full Member € 290,00 VAT inlcuded € 350,00 VAT inlcuded
Student € 190,00 VAT inlcuded € 250,00 VAT inlcuded
Non Member € 390,00 VAT inlcuded € 450,00 VAT inlcuded


More information: https://europlantbiology2020.org/

Source: PBE 2021

EPSO particularly supports the ambition that ‘R&I in the biodiversity domain will recognize that ecological, social and technological changes go hand in hand and co-evolve, and to focus on this alignment and breakdown of silos.’

EPSO appreciates that the draft SRIA links environmental sustainability, food and nutritional security, and human health. EPSO urges application of this approach across the SRIA as a whole.

Concepts EPSO suggests including, such as ‘diverse crops for diverse diets and human health and resilient production’, as well as ‘combined approaches on crop improvement, crop management and crop processing’, will enable interdisciplinary approaches with co-benefits in Europe and beyond.

The partnership rightly defines the goals and should lead the process to achieve these, leaving the pathways to reach these open – based on open and transparent approaches ranging from research to innovation, public procurement to legislation.

We provide further insight on how these concepts can benefit the evolving SRIA and its implementation and how plant scientists can contribute to this in the Annex.

Click here to read: Full EPSO statement 29.1.2021


  • Karin Metzlaff, EPSO, BE
  • Alan Schulman, LUKE, FI & EPSO President

The European Commission announced today, 26.1.2021, that further to the announcement of the delays of ERC calls, a pre-publication on the ERC website of relevant DRAFT documents for 2021 ERC calls is in preparation. The ERC is aiming to have these documents online by the end of January or beginning of February. In response to many queries on the subject, prospective applicants and panel members should note that ERC is striving to preserve the deadlines for submission of proposals and the evaluation calendar as close as possible to that initially planned.

As the ERC Work Programme 2021 is foreseen to have only very few changes compared to that from 2020, EPSO encourages its members to use the ERC WP 2020 information to already draft their ERC proposals, particularly those for Starting Grant and Consolidator Grant, and to only update their proposals slightly once the calls are published.

Wishing you success with your proposals

Karin Metzlaff, Alexandra Barnoux and Alan Schulman

Links: EC announcement, 26.1.2021 Update – 2021 Work Programme and first calls

Contacts: Karin Metzlaff and Alexandra Barnoux

This third workshop of the EPSO Working Group on Plants and Microbiomes has two aims. First, we will hear first highlights from (multi-)national plants and microbiomes research and innovation from our Working Group members to present. Second, we will discuss in more detail two themes which need further elaboration by the Working Group: ‘Advancing from correlation to causation from lab to field to ecosystems’ and on ‘Research infrastructure’ – and provide advice to Horizon Europe and (multi-)national research strategies.

The meeting intends to increase collaborations between the working group members (via e.g. COST action, Coordination & Support Actions, initiate more collaborations both bi-and multi-lateral).

At the end of the meeting, a workshop report will be drafted on the current status, goals and next steps in plants and microbiomes research – particularly – and will be provided as science advice to policy to the European Commission. The report will be published on the EPSO website.

We look forward to e-meeting you online!

Angela Sessitsch, Paul Schulze-Lefert, Corné Pieterse and Karin Metzlaff

Click here to read: The workshop Handout 11.12.2020

Contacts: Angela Sessitsch, Paul Schulze-Lefert, Corné Pieterse and Karin Metzlaff