Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 95

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
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1950s. And the farms of 2050 will probably differ significantly from the
farms of today … however, the challenges and also the opportunities
that are ahead of us are as great today as they were 60 years ago. Food
security is a bigger challenge than ever, with a global population expected
to reach 9.6 billion people by 2050.”
Rural development
Turning his attention to the Rural Development Programme, the
commissioner revealed that this will “stimulate rural areas to strengthen
and diversify economic activity. The rollout of fast broadband everywhere
will see greater use of data collection and data analytics in crop and
livestock management. To use two concepts that you will hear more often
in the future: this is Big Data for precision farming. Biomass, bio-energy
and the bio-based economy will develop further.
“Innovation is the key to sustainable rural development: through
innovation, we can maintain the competitiveness of the agri-food sector
and create more and better jobs in rural areas, all the while safeguarding
the planet for future generations.”
Hogan added: “Innovation is happening everywhere, today.” Nevertheless,
Europe’s agricultural innovation system needs to be strengthened and
further developed, he continued, arguing that: “there is a massive
potential and also a pressing need to do more.
“There is evidence that the links between research, farmers and the
industry are still too weak. Too many innovations are still left unexploited
and too many research questions from the sector remain unanswered.
Agricultural knowledge and innovation systems need to be made more
efficient and interactive. The new tools we have put on the table for
2014-2020 are there to ensure we really succeed.”
Thus, while new plant breeding techniques – such as oligonucleotide-
directed mutagenesis; zinc finger nuclease technology comprising
ZFN-1, ZFN-2 and ZFN-3; cisgenesis comprising intragenesis; grafting;
agro-infiltration and so on – hold much promise, it is clear that there are
many other areas now coming to the fore which, alongside the somewhat
rapid evolution of GM, have the potential to help tackle some of the
biggest societal challenges facing Europe both today and in the future.
T
he International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and
Agriculture is a comprehensive international agreement in
harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, which aims
at guaranteeing food security through the conservation, exchange and
sustainable use of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and
agriculture (PGRFA), as well as the fair and equitable benefit sharing
arising from its use.
According to the European Commission, an important part of the treaty
is the standard material transfer agreement for access to genetic
resources and benefit sharing if products arising from this material
are commercialised.
A further important area is also highlighted by the Commission’s
Biodiversity Action Plan for Agriculture, which underlines the fact that the
conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources in agriculture are
essential to the sustainable development of agricultural production and
of rural areas.
The community programme on the conservation, characterisation,
collection and utilisation of genetic resources in agriculture, furthermore,
promotes genetic diversity and the exchange of information, including
close co-ordination between member states and between the member
states and the European Commission. It also facilitates co-ordination in
the field of international undertakings on genetic resources.
GMOs
Given the additional challenges posed by population growth, climate
change, increasing social and economic instability, and a continuing
failure to achieve food security, genetically modified organisms (GMO)
have significant potential to help secure a sustainable future.
However, concerns surrounding GMOs persist, and the Commission
outlines that, in order to ensure that the development of modern
biotechnology, and more specifically of GMOs, takes place in complete
safety, the European Union has established a legal framework. Regulation
(EC) 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and feed provides the
general framework for regulating such products in the EU.
Genetic modification (GM), however, remains just one tool in the box
when it comes to an innovative and sustainable agriculture sector, and
this was one of the key messages in a recent speech delivered by the
new European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil
Hogan, to the sixth Knowledge and Innovation Summit in Brussels in
November 2014.
Here, Hogan argued: “Agriculture has always been an innovative sector.
Most of the farms of today have little in common with the farms of the
GM: one tool among many
Portal
explores plant genetics as just one solution to some of the challenges
facing Europe’s agri-food sector
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