EPSO working groups
Agricultural Technologies WoGr
Agricultural Technologies - lead Pere Puigdomenech, Maurice Moloney, Joachim Schiemann
The EPSO Board decided last year to constitute a WoGr to call attention to how the science that its members are producing may have an impact on agriculture. Agriculture will have to meet important demands in the near future. The production of sufficient, safe and healthy food for an increasing human population is a huge challenge. But this production also has to meet the need for a reduced impact of agriculture in a changing environment.
Everyone working in plant biology is aware of the significant advances in our knowledge of plant development, interactions of plants with other organisms — particularly pathogens, and the control of metabolic pathways. New methodologies are being developed to study plants both at molecular and cellular levels and as whole organisms or populations in the field. We are convinced that these methods and the information that we are obtaining from them will have, sooner or later, significant effects on agriculture. Agriculture has always been based on the best technologies available at a given moment. For instance, recent research on plant genetics has shown the genetic basis of the selection of species and variants that led to domestication of present crops. Plants were among the first species selected for the studies that led to the birth of genetics and during the last century plant breeding provided the basis for the present levels of food production. It is also clear that other technologies provided fertilisers, pesticides, allowed the irrigation of new lands and the mechanisation of agriculture. A number of technologies are already having an impact in plant breeding:
- Molecular markers are already being used routinely for many crop species by public and private breeders.
- Sequences of the main cultivated plants are becoming available and resequencing of varieties is being used to obtain collections of polymorphic sequences that allow massive genotyping and the discovery and use of complex genetic characters.
- Knowledge of pathways that control metabolism and development and generate resistance to pathogens is providing genes that may be useful to produce new variability through transformation.
- Methods for phenotyping are also being developed based on image analysis. They may become useful to follow the state of crops in the field helping farmers to take decisions.
Next to this, increasing awareness and provide an actual overview and access to Risk Assessment (RA) and Regulatory Issues (RI) of new agricultural technologies, including genetic engineering, also belongs to the activities of the WoGr. FA and RI influence the daily work and lives of researchers involved in new biotechnologies – such as new plant breeding techniques: Zinc finger nuclease technology; oligonucleotides directed mutagenesis; reverse breeding or Agro-infiltration. Often this area is of small concern to relative newcomers in the field of research, yet the productive outcome of research is guided and often thwarted by regulations. The group aims to address this significant area, directly related to research and placing on the market. Main tasks are to: increase awareness of RA and RI amongst EPSO members, provide an actual overview on and access to RA and RI documents for EPSO members, and flag up necessary actions
- JRC: IMPACT ANALYSIS of the Joint Research Centre's activites for the regulation of GMOs in the European Union, published Jan 2013, 19.9.2013
- EPSO: Science Based Policy, 1.9.2013
- EASAC: Planting the Future: opportunities and challenges for using crop genetic improvement technologies for sustainable agriculture, Brussels, 27.6.2013
- Paterson, the UK Environmental Secretary: UK must lead the World in GM crops, Rothamsted, 20.6.2013
- Daily Mail, UK: Ministers urge EU to relax its tough curbs on genetically-modified crops, 12.5.2013
- Independent, UK: Editorial; Time for a rethink on GM crops, 11.6.2013
- NBT Platform: 7 factsheets available on new breeding techniques, 30.4.2013.
- EFSA call for tender on feed additives - preparatory work to support the re-evaluation of technological feed additives, deadline 24.5.2013
- EFSA call for tender on GMOs - to prepare documents evaluating the bioinformatic analyses of incoming GMO application dossiers, deadline 24.5.2013
- EPSO: Submitting input to the EC’s consultation on Organic Agriculture in Europe, 28.03.2013
- ISAAA: First time developing countries have grown more hectares of biotech crops than industrialized countries, contributing to food security and further alleviating poverty, 20.02.2013
- EPSO: Comment to editorial A Glover: Is there opportunity in risk and uncertainty?, 5.2.2013
- A Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser to EC President: Is there opportunity in risk and uncertainty?, 4.2.2013
- European Commission: call for experts to assist EC in preparing report on development & implications of patent law in the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering. Deadline applications: 12.12.2012
- EFSA: Seralini study 2012 does not impact re-evaluation of glyphosate, nor re-opens safety evaluation of maize NK603, 3.10.2012
- H. Hirt: Science first in GM debate, 2.10.2012
- Federal Inst. of Risk Assessment, Germany: Publication Seralini et al.: Feeding studies on rats with GM corn and glyphosate-containing formulation, 1.10.2012
- Swiss National Science Foundation: 'Green genetic engineering in Switzerland: low risk, high unused potential', 4.9.2012
- Plant ETP: Statement on New Breeding Technologies, September 2012
- EPSO: Statement on agricultural technologies, 15.6.2012
- EPSO statement on Plant breeders’ rights and patent rights, 8.6.2011
Eva-Mari Aro, Turku Univ., FI
Michel Caboche, INRA, FR
Josef Gloessl, BoKu, AT
Wilhlem Gruissem, ETH Zurich, CH
Frank Hartung & Joachim Schiemann, JKI, DE
Heribert Hirt, INRA, FR
Maurice Moloney, RRes-Roth, UK
Pere Puigdomenech, CRAG, ES
Uli Schurr, Phytosphere Julich, DE
Joachim Schiemann, JKI, DE
Richard Visser, WUR, NL