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Agricultural Technologies Working Group

Agricultural Technologies - lead Joachim Schiemann, Jonathan JonesPere Puigdomenech

EPSO Publications prepared by this Working Group:

Working Group Activities

The EPSO Board decided 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.

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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. 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. 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.
  • The recent progress in genome editing allows the efficient and precise modification of genes in almost all plant species.
  • By introducing the genetic information for new metabolic pathways into nuclear and chloroplast genomes plants can be explored as production platform for a wide range of new products.

Next to this, increasing awareness and providing an actual overview and access to Risk Assessment (RA) and Regulatory Issues (RI) of new agricultural technologies, including genetic engineering and genome editing, also belongs to the activities of the WoGr. RA and RI influence the daily work and lives of researchers involved in developing and exploring new biotechnologies. 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.
 

Meetings

The most recent meeting of the working group was kindly hosted by CNR / Milano on 22.11.2016. The participants discussed mainly New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBT) and the implementation of the Nagoya protocol at national level. The group continues to provide science advice to policy on NPBTs to the European Commission and via its members to national level. Further activities will include advice on Synthetic Biology.

Previous meetings took place at CRAG / Barcelona on 31.5.2016, the Julius Kuehn-Institute in Berlin on 3.12.2015 and in the Helmholtz Association in Brussels on the 30.10.2014. Lead by Joachim Schiemann (both) and Jonathan Jones (Oct’14), a wide range of issues were discussed by over 20 participants including an observer from the European Commission. EPSO positions and statements on Crop Genetic Improvement Technologies, Plant Breeders Rights and Patent Rights, and the Member State Exemption for GMO Cultivation were vibrantly debated and published afterwards. The group will continue to help represent the needs of European scientists in this important area into the future.

The next meeting will be held in Berlin end of May 2017.

Activity: Positions on Crop Genetic Improvement Technologies, Plant Breeders Rights and Patent Rights, and the Member State Exemption for GMO Cultivation.

Members:
Eva-Mari Aro, Turku Univ., FI
Ralph Bock, MPIMP Golm, DE
Josep Casacuberta, CSIC-CRAG, ES
Roberto Defez, CNR, IT
Dennis Eriksson, SE (guest)
Mathias Fladung, Thuenen Inst, DE (observer)
Josef Gloessl, BoKu, AT
Wilhelm Gruissem, ETH Zurich, CH
Claire Halpin, Hutton, UK
Frank Hartung, JKI, DE
Per Hofvander, SLU, SE
Jonathan Jones, TSL, UK
Solveig Krogh Christiansen, Copenhagen University, DK
Elspeth MacRae, Scion, NZ
Karin Metzlaff, EPSO
Heiko Mibus-Schoppe, Geisenheim University, DE
Michele Morgante, Istituto di Genomica Applicata, IT (observer)
Johnathan Napier, Rothamsted, UK
Margarida Oliveira, ITQB, PT
Pere Puigdomenech, CRAG, ES
Francesco Paolocci, CNR, IT
Anneli Ritala-Nurmi, VTT, FI
Peter Rogowsky, INRA, FR
Joerg Romeis, Agroscope, CH
Joachim Schiemann, JKI, DE
Helga Schinkel, Fraunhofer IME, DE
Andrea Schubert, Università degli Studi di Torino, IT
Meredith Schuman, Max Planck, DE
Uli Schurr, Research Center Julich, DE
George Skaracis, Agricultural University of Athens, GR
Tomas Vanek, CAS, CZ
Richard Visser, WUR, NL
Michelle Watt, Research Centre Juelich, DE
Li-Hua Zhu, SLU Alnarp, SE
 

Contact: Joachim Schiemann; Jonathan Jones; Pere Puigdomenech

 

Communications:

 

 


Printed from http://www.epsoweb.org/agricultural-technologies-wogr on 21/01/17 07:44:45 PM

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