EPSO working groups
General Meeting Statement: Achievements and Future of EPSO, 1.9.2013
EPSO, the European Plant Science Organisation, is an independent academic organisation currently representing 72 institutional members bringing together more than 220 research institutes, departments and universities from 30 countries in Europe and beyond.
EPSO’s mission is to improve the impact and visibility of plant science in Europe. EPSO's top priorities are to facilitate the understanding of plant science, to boost funding for basic research and to coordinate research activities at the national and European levels - and beyond.
The association was founded in 2000 to represent the needs and interests of European plant science. Since then, it discusses with the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament and national politicians recommendations on European and global science policy.
EPSO was and continues to be a key driver to ensure that appropriate funding in terms of content and critical mass is available for plant research in European Research programmes (FP6, FP7, and now Horizon 2020) and to foster ERA-NETs in plant sciences, being observer of the ERA-Net on Molecular Plant Sciences (ERA-CAPS).
In 2004, EPSO together with EuropaBio started one of the first European Technology Platforms 'Plants for the Future' (Plant ETP). In 2007 the platform published its Strategic Research Agenda presenting a vision of plant research for the next 20 years and identifying challenges for Europe’s society and economy to which the plant sector can contribute. Today Plant ETP is composed of ESA and individual companies from industries, EPSO representing academia, and CopaCogeca bringing in the farming communities. Jointly they develop Action Plans on Research, Innovation and on Education and work on their implementation at the European and national levels to promote and advocate strategic research and internationally competitive research and innovation.
EPSO has one NGO, two European industrial organisations and individual companies as observers. It collaborates with ten national learned societies in plant biology under a Memorandum of Understanding, with other European science organisations in the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), plant science organisations worldwide in the Global Plant Council (GPC). Since 2011 EPSO works with FAO and African scientists towards longer term partnerships in plant science for sustainable agriculture in Developing countries.
EPSO organises a biannual conference that is one of the top plant science events not to be missed. After Switzerland (2002), Italy (2004), Hungary (2006), France (2008) and Finland (2010) the next EPSO conference is taking place from 1-4 September 2013 in Porto Heli, Greece. Scientists from Europe and other continents will present and discuss cutting edge science. Together with no-plant scientists they will build an interface to new areas.
EPSO membership is open to universities and research institutions conducting research in the field of plant science (institutional membership) worldwide, as well as to individuals interested in plant science (personal membership). This latest opportunity is open to all nationalities, professions, career stages and age groups worldwide.
The EPSO Manifesto - what EPSO is for:
- Photosynthesis fuels all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and is the ultimate source of all our food.
- Plants are essential for ecosystem services by, for example, preventing soil erosion and maintaining quality of watercourses.
- Plant populations are crucial to the amenity value of forests, grasslands and agricultural environments.
- Plant communities are extremely vulnerable to climate change.
- Most of the cultivable land in Europe (and globally) is devoted to agriculture. Wise judgements about coexistence of wildlife and agriculture require scientific evidence.
- A better understanding of plants is vital for sustainable human existence.
Imagine a world without plants! Not very attractive, is it?
Plant Matter Matters
- Plant yields are critical to farming, food and biomass energy production.
- In 2010, ~ one billion people have inadequate food. Enhancing crop yields and quality can reduce food prices and malnutrition, and enhance rural incomes.
- Plants provide timber, fibre (cotton), animal feed, high value substances (fragrances, aromas, pigments), oils, grains, fruit, vegetables, flowers, biomass for energy, and new sources of sustainable chemical feedstocks.
- Plant-derived chemicals play a vital role in preventive medicine.
- Plants take CO2 out of the air and sequester carbon above and below ground
EPSO Goals - Because Plants Matter
- Biology education needs to properly instruct pupils, students and the public of the importance and properties of plants. Teaching should recognise the contribution of plants to discovery in biology, such Mendel’s Laws in genetics.
- European agencies and individual governments should fund high-quality pan-European plant science projects, irrespective of nationality, and neither requiring nor excluding industrial participation. Currently, different programs enable different subsets of EU nations to participate in projects with each other, but exclude certain countries from working together.
- The EU Framework programs must have a strong plant science component, and as well as applied projects, should help drive exciting discoveries that create new and unexpected opportunities for valuable new technology.
- World food supplies are more vulnerable than most realize, and will become more vulnerable; strengthening plant science is critical to future advances in crop yield.
- Plant breeding is critical to improved crop yields, but is declining in the public sector. Private breeders are having difficulty recruiting new breeders because so few are being trained. Public sector breeding and germplasm improvement must be revived.
- Biotech (GM) traits are being deployed worldwide to solve weed and insect problems in crops, and to improve drought tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency and disease resistance. EPSO urges a case-by-case appraisal of individual biotech traits, focusing on the quality of the crop trait rather than the method used to improve it.
- We should seize the huge opportunities afforded by plant science (including GM) to improve the quality of the human diet.
- Plant and crop evaluation policy should be evidence-based.
EPSO WILL COOPERATE WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS TO ADVANCE THESE GOALS.