Stay updated on the latest developments in plant science policy and EPSO activities!
Deforestation of tropical rainforests causes irrecoverable damage to biodiversity in terms of ecosystem and species loss and has long-term negative impact on global and regional climate through increased carbon release into the atmosphere. It is therefore crucial to stop deforestation.
In this context, EPSO welcomes the initiative, taken by the European Parliament, to explore the potential for European policy to reduce EU-driven global deforestation through the limitation of the import of commodities causing deforestation. EPSO supports the implementation of effective EU policies including due diligence and sustainability certification standards regarding deforestation risks.
We stress nevertheless that, as the Authors of the study themselves admit, they report upper-bound estimates of the impact of proposed policies. We also suggest that there is room for improvement in the definition of policies: (i) by differentiating the biodiversity and ecosystem services of much higher impact of clearing and disturbing pristine compared to already disturbed or secondary forests; (ii) by additionally aiming at preventing degradation of pristine forests, which also has a deep impact on biodiversity & ecosystem services; (iii) by promoting the usage and import of agroforestry-based commodities, which have the net advantage of actively maintaining forest cover.
EPSO offers to collaborate with the European Parliament, European Commission, Member States and authorities across the world to develop a forward-looking legislative framework, respective research and innovation strategies and help implement these.
Click here to read: Full EPSO news 16.09.202
Contacts: Chairs of the EPSO Tree biology and biotechnology Working Group: Ivan Scotti, INRAe / FR, Elspeth MacRae, Scion / NZ and Bethold Heinze, BFW / AT; EPSO.
Does a point mutation look different when it is made by one process or another? No! One cannot tell from the mutation itself whether it was spontaneous or triggered by genome editing, and additional information on the history of the genetic material is needed as a precondition to evaluate from which breeding process it originates. Spontaneous or edited, point mutations are the same for all intents and purposes.
EPSO fully agrees that known gene edits including single nucleotide changes can be detected by PCR. EPSO declared this in its input to the present EC study on NGTs (New Genomic Techniques) and connected statements. The Greenpeace-funded work by the Chhalliyil et al (2020) publication merely confirms this well-established fact.
However, the published method has two main limitations: It does not present a means to establish that genome editing is the cause of the detected mutation, since it just displays a sequence modification without identification of the modification process. This has been seen from the beginning as the major challenge, since edited plants produced in countries with more open regulation are not declared as such. In addition, the method is not applicable to unknown gene modifications, since edited plants, contrary to classical GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), do not share common elements, and a method detecting a specific sequence variation cannot detect different variations in other plants and sequences. The detection of a single nucleotide change does not provide any proof by itself that this change was provoked by genome editing rather than natural mutation.
Click here to read: Full EPSO statement 09.09.202
- Alan Schulman, LUKE, FI & EPSO President
- Peter Rogowsky, INRAE, FR & EPSO AgT WG chair
- Karin Metzlaff, EPSO, BE
The CHIC project aims to develop sets of new chicory varieties to produce, on one hand, more and healthier inulin food fiber and, on the other hand, identify and produce medicinal terpenes in sufficient amounts. These varieties are developed via genome editing. Safety, socio-economic and environmental impact as well as stakeholders’ needs and concerns when implementing such new varieties are also investigated in this project.
As highlights, the first chicory plants with adaptations in the genome of both the inulin and terpene biosynthesis pathways were confirmed in several partners’ laboratories; and six commercialization scenarios were defined.
EPSO is partner in the CHIC project focusing on stakeholder engagement and supporting communication.
CHIC is a research and innovation project supported through the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme with a budget of €7.3 million
Contacts: Macarena Sanz, ID Consortium, ES – Dirk Bosch, Wageningen University, NL (Coordinator)
At the mid-term meeting, project consortia will provide a status update of their ongoing research in the field of sustainable and resilient crop production.
The meeting will bring together the research projects of the first transnational co-funded call (see list at https://www.suscrop.eu/call-information/1st-call. It will be held digitally on September 15 from 13:00 to 17:00 CEST.
If you are interested to join the meeting, please find more information on the programme and registration through the following link: https://bit.ly/2EHRymV
SusCrop is an ERA-Net Cofund Action under Horizon 2020 on Sustainable Crop Production. It aims at enhancing cooperation and coordination of different national and regional research programmes on this theme.
EPSO is official observer in the SusCrop ERA-Net and supports all its activities.
Looking forward to meeting you all virtually!
Contact: Nikki De Clercq, Research Associate, ILVO (BE)
On 20 May 2020, the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies were released by the EC. Both are at the heart of the EU Green Deal for which an EU Green deal call for proposals will be opened by Mid-September 2020.
Areas of interest for plant scientists in the EU Green Deal call for proposals
The call for proposals is organised around 11 areas which are divided in 8 thematic areas and 3 horizontal ones. EPSO identified the following areas of interest for plant scientists where the first four ones seem of utmost interest.
- Call area 1: Increasing climate ambition: cross-sectoral challenges
- Call area 6: Farm to Fork
- Call area 7: Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services
- Call area 8: Zero-pollution, toxic-free environment
- Call area 9: Strengthening our knowledge in support of the European Green Deal
- Call area 10: Empowering citizens for transition towards a climate neutral, sustainable Europe
Project proposals should be submitted by the end of January 2021.
By then, plant scientists will have opportunities to find potential project partners at the EU R&I Days organised online by the European Commission from 22 to 24 September 2020. They will also be able to get more familiar with the EU Green Deal call for proposals during two online free events on 7 and 13 October 2020.
13 October 2020 event: Insights and networking opportunity
The event is organised by the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, Invest NI and Northern Ireland National Contract Points (NCPs) and will present insights and expectations from the European Commission. It will also offer a networking opportunity with its one-to-one meetings, allowing participants to meet with future project partners from across industry and research.
Registration for this event is open until 9 October 2020.
7 October 2020 event focusing on Social Sciences and Humanities in the Green Deal Call
This event is organised by the Network of National Contact Points for H2020 Societal Challenge 6, Net4Society, registration for this event has not started yet.
Area 1: Increasing Climate Ambition: Cross sectoral challenges
- LC-GD-1-2-2020: Towards Climate-Neutral and Socially Innovative Cities
- LC-GD-1-3-2020: Climate-resilient Innovation Packages for EU regions
Area 4: Energy and resource efficient buildings
- LC-GD-4-1-2020: Building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way
- Area 9: Strengthening our knowledge in support of the EGD
- LC-GD-9-1-2020: European Research Infrastructures capacities and services to address European Green Deal challenges
- LC-GD-9-3-2020: Transparent & Accessible Seas and Oceans: Towards a Digital Twin of the Ocean
Area 10: Empowering citizens for the transition towards a climate neutral, sustainable Europe
- LC-GD-10-1-2020: European capacities for citizen deliberation and participation for the Green Deal
- LC-GD-10-2-2020: Behavioural, social and cultural change for the Green Deal
- 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
Sources: EC – KoWi, 28.08.2020 – Respective websites of events
Therefore, we ask European leaders for an increase of the Horizon Europe budget in general and a specific allocation of additional 5Bn€ to Pillar I.
The Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), published today its statement on the EU Council’s President proposal on MFF and Horizon Europe, stating it is perplexed by the downward spiral of the Horizon Europe Research & Innovation budget for 2021-2027 as an additional cut of 5Bn€ has been proposed by the President of the EU Council.
Although the current COVID-19 crisis has shown beyond any doubt the importance of research and innovation, the funding of the EU flagship research programmes (ERC, boosting frontier research and MSCA, focusing on training of young scientists and entrepreneurs) together with the total investment in Horizon Europe has been declining quickly since the Commission’s initial proposal.
While the EU Parliament had set 120Bn€ as the minimum budget requirement to assure EU competitiveness, the Commission’s June 2018 proposal had a total budget of 94.1Bn€; in February of 2020, the Council discussed an allocation of approx. 85Bn€; this went down to 81Bn€ in May and then to 75.9Bn€ last week. The current proposal is significantly below this ambition and that of a geopolitical Europe set by the EU Commission.
We acknowledge and approve of the additional investment from the “Next generation EU” recovery package to fund innovation actions (approximately 14Bn€). We notice, though, that since frontier research and training of young scientists are not funded through this instrument, a cut in the programme signifies a substantial depletion from the investment in Pillar I of Horizon Europe.
This is going in the wrong direction; research addresses fundamental questions and equips societies to face complex challenges. In these difficult times, the leaders of Member States would show a greater vision for the future of Europe by deciding for a more ambitious investment in Horizon Europe as a whole, to boost the growth of the research and innovation system, and therefore the benefits for European economy and society.
- Martin Andler, President of the Initiative for Science in Europe, [email protected]
- Karin Metzlaff, EPSO Executive Director and member of the ISE Executive Committee
ISE statement: https://initiative-se.eu/he-budget-statement-july-2020/