EPSO statement on the Court of Justice of the EU ruling regarding mutagenesis and the GMO Directive

EPSO publishes its statement to the ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on organisms obtained by mutagenesis (case C-528/16) stating that the ruling disregards scientific evidence. (re-post Feb 19, 2019 | EPSO, WG Agricultural Technologies)

Genome editing is not the only answer to current challenges of agriculture and society, but it represents an important tool for harnessing plant science knowledge toward a future-ready agriculture, for allowing Europe to play a leading role in innovative plant science, and to contribute to the bioeconomy by boosting the performance of underutilised plant species and biological resources. In the drive to achieve sustainable development goals, no useful tool should be neglected. EPSO supports a science-based change to the present European legislation and proposes to establish a legislation adapted to future technological developments by increasing emphasis on product-based risk assessment. Meanwhile, further tangible commitment is needed to support, inform and communicate about innovative plant science and its societal role.

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Gemeinsame Planung von Forschung: ENGAGE with Society

Nachhaltigkeitsinitiativen, Landwirte und pflanzenwissenschaftliche Forschung engagieren sich gemeinsam für ökologische Landwirtschaft und alternative Ernährungssysteme.

Bewerbungsschluss für die Formulierung der Anliegen am 20. April 2019 und Teilnahme an der gemeinsamen Ideenwerkstatt am 10. Mai 2019, 13:00 – 17:00.

Worum gehts?

Wir laden Sie ein, Ihre Fragen und Anliegen an die Forschenden des Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center (Universitäten Zürich und Basel, ETH Zürich) in den Themenbereichen ökologische Landwirtschaft und alternative Ernährungssysteme zu formulieren.

Wir möchten mit Ihnen zusammen eine evidenzbasierte, naturwissenschaftliche Lösung oder Ergebnisse zu Ihrer Fragestellung erarbeiten. Zusammen definieren wir die wissenschaftliche Fragestellung und den Forschungsprozess und stossen gemeinsam Transformationsprozesse an – damit wir etwas bewirken für Nachhaltigkeit und Ihre Initiative.

Wir sind eingeladen aus Ihren Anliegen bis zu vier Dissertationsprojekte zu formulieren und einer namhaften Stiftung zur Förderung vorzuschlagen.

Wer kann mitmachen?

Mitmachen können VertreterInnen von Vereinen, Interessenverbänden im Bereich Umwelt und Landwirtschaft, lokalen und regionalen Bürgerinitiative, der Exekutive, der Umwelt- und Landwirtschaftsämter auf kommunaler bis nationaler Ebene, der regionalen Tourismusverbände, sowie Landwirtinnen und Landwirte.

Was bekommen Teilnehmende?

Für die teilnehmenden Organisationen bietet dieses Programm die Möglichkeit, ein Anliegen durch die Forschenden und Experten des PSC begleiten zu lassen. Wir generieren gemeinsam Expertenwissen für ihre Praxis. Sie bekommen Zugang zur Zusammenarbeit mit den Wissenschaftlern und Forschenden in den Pflanzenwissenschaften an ETH Zürich, Universität Zürich und Universität Basel. Wir erarbeiten einen gemeinsamen Stiftungsantrag, um diese angewandte und partizipative Forschung in die Praxis umzusetzen. Zusammen werden wir die Wirkung und die Sichtbarkeit der Projektergebnisse sicherstellen.  

Die Teilnahme ist für Sie kostenlos. Spesen und Sachaufwände, die während der Zusammenarbeit entstehen, können teilweise vergütet werden. Ihr Zeitaufwand in der Initialphase liegt bei ca. 1 Tag. Danach definieren Sie selbst, wie stark Sie sich in die Forschungszusammenarbeit einbringen möchten.


Sie formulieren Ihre Anfrage als Fragestellung oder Anliegen an die Forschung bis zum 20. April 2019 auf maximal 2 Seiten. Wir laden die von Ihnen genannten VertreterInnen Ihrer Organisation, dann zu einer gemeinsamen Ideenwerkstatt am 10. Mai 2019, 13:00 – 17:00 ein, wenn wir Ihre Fragestellung oder Ihr Anliegen in unserem Netzwerk bearbeiten können und erarbeiten einen Stiftungsantrag.

Zur Bewerbung hier

Posted in Agroecology, Alternative Food Networks, Climate change, Participation, Responsible Research and Innovation, Soil, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are alternative food networks a way to support the implementation of SDG 12?

A case study report can be downloaded: Are alternative food networks a way to support the implementation of SDG 12? . Written by Misato Today (ETH) and Nadine Engbersen (ETH), PhD Program in Plant Sciences, ETH Zurich.

Are alternative food networks (AFNs) a way to support the implementation of SDG 12? In their case study Misato Toda and Nadine Engebersen compared Swiss and Japanese AFNs. These enable consumers to purchase locally-grown and organic food directly from farmers. They offer possibilities for consumers to learn about seasonal products.  The closer relationship between farmers and consumers can create a relationship built on trust, which is contradictory to the relationship many consumers have with large food retailers. However, they need political support.

The seminar “Sustainable Plant Systems” (VVZ: 551-0209-00L) is organized by the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center for MSc and PhD students of ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Basel every autumn term.

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Food security and sustainability in the city of Zurich

A case study report can be downloaded: Food security and sustainability in the city of Zurich. Written by Xeniya Kofler (UZH) and Eleni Tevridou (UNIGE), PhD Program in Plant Sciences, ETH Zurich.

In the past few decades, the issue of sustainable and responsible living has been on top of the list of topics discussed at world leaders’ meetings such as the United Nations Summit. Since the development of sustainable development goals (SDGs), many European countries have embraced and implemented many steps on the way of achieving these goals. In this case study we decided to investigate the extent to which the city of Zurich, Switzerland succeeds in the policy development and implementation of SDG’s 2 and 12 both dealing with food sustainability.

For download: PDF

The seminar “Sustainable Plant Systems” (VVZ: 551-0209-00L) is organized by the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center for MSc and PhD students of ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Basel every autumn term.

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PSC-Mercator: Agrarpolitik Blog contribution – “Ist Diversität im Grasland ökonomisch wertvoll?”

PSC-Mercator fellow Sergei Schaub and his supervisor Prof. Robert Finger wrote about the question “Ist Diversität im Grasland ökonomisch wertvoll?” in the Agrarpolitik Blog. A topic which Sergei addresses in is PhD project DIVERSEGRASS, which is funded by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland. Read more …

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PSC-Mercator Alumni co-authored IUCN Report on Oil palm and biodiversity

John Garcia-Ulloa, a PSC Science and Policy alumni, worked on a “Comprehensive Trade-off Analysis of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) Implementation”. Based on this work and a secondment within the framework of his fellowship, he co-authored the recently published IUCN report on “Oil palm and biodiversity: A situation analysis by the IUCN Oil Palm Task Force”.

The situation analysis primarily focuses on oil palm in the context of biodiversity  conservation based on literature published before 31 January 2018, and aims to provide a constructive pathway to addressing sustainability challenges in the palm oil industry. This report does not assess the social and economic implications of palm oil production and expansion but will refer to these when they are likely to have an impact on biodiversity conservation. Through identification of key knowledge gaps, the situation analysis will also provide direction to the Oil Palm Task Force in terms of seeking to address these knowledge gaps in the remainder of the 2017-2020 Quadrennium. Read more …

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Summer School Registration closed: PSC summer school “Responsible Research and Innovation in Plant Sciences”, taking place from 10-14 September2018 in Einsiedeln, Switzerland.

From September 10 – 15, 2018 we will present the PSC summer school „Responsible Research and Innovation in Plant Sciences” at Einsiedeln, Switzerland.

Our summer school series (since 2010) on some of the most tackling topics of current science-society interface has been evaluated positively for years now as mind-opening experience.

 Program: http://www.plantsciences.uzh.ch/teaching/summerschool.html

Registration: Please send an e-mail to Romy Kohlmann (romy.kohlmann@usys.ethz.ch)


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Visions as a powerful tool for sustainability

Visions can become surfaces for people to project their needs and wishes, to stimulate creativity and dialogue about desired futures on that people can consent for example based on agreed sustainability principles.

Visions are not the same as foresight that build on present-day knowledge and constraints and model future trends under different uncertainties. Visions are scenarios that could be a step in moving behind land use dilemmas, an example of this in Perez-Soba et al. 2018.

Imaging a distant future is a big mental step from our current experience. A key notion is therefore in Perez-Soba et al. (2018) that such a visioning exercise with stakeholders and the public needs to anchor imagination in a combination of normative and explorative scenarios to enrich these with their own experiences and imagination.

Researchers mentioned the role of mutual trust and flexibility to move behind stakeholders role and occupation (Schneider and Rist, 2014). Perez-Soba et al. (2018) used The Chatham House Rule (https://www. chathamhouse.org/about/chatham-house-rule) as a way to encourage openness and the sharing of information.

Visioning could be a way to make research and decision-making more responsive, however, it can come with caveats as the implementation need more time than the social licence of the consent exercise has granted.

References: Pérez-Soba, M., Paterson, J., Metzger, M.J. et al. Reg Environ Change (2018) 18: 775. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-018-1297-7

Schneider, F. & Rist, S. Sustain Sci (2014) 9: 463. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-013-0232-6

The Science and Policy Blog will comment on current approaches for participatory dialogue and deliberation in a loosely series over the next months. This contribution was done by Melanie Paschke, director education PSC after the Latsis Symposium, 6-7, and 9. June 2018: Scaling-up Forest-Restoration. The next contribution will be on different methods used in visioning.

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Agriculture and Climate Change: Reducing Food’s Footprint

A case study report can be downloaded:Agriculture and Climate Change: Reducing Food’s Footprint. Written by Carlos Eduardo Flores Tinoco, Tabea Gallusser, Christie Walker, PhD Program in Plant Sciences, ETH Zurich.

Agriculture and climate change go hand-in-hand, and changes in one will induce changes in the other. It is of utmost importance to identify agriculture procedures that minimize their contribution to climate change. Nowadays many agricultural procedures have been implemented that are able to increase their sustainability. Here we review the major influences between agriculture and climate change as well as explore which possibilities we currently have in order to mitigate the contribution from agriculture to climate change.

For download: PDF

The seminar “Sustainable Plant Systems” (VVZ: 551-0209-00L) is organized by the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center for MSc and PhD students of ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Basel every autumn term.

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New book: Agriculture in Transformation

PSC has summarized the diverse field of sustainable transformation of agriculture with contribution of Philipp Aerni, Gurbir Bhullar, Allan Buckwell, Markus Frank, Marcel van der Heijden, Hans Herren, John Ingram, François Meienberg, Michael Meissle, Melanie Paschke, Martin Schmid, Franziska Stössel, Raphael Wittmer, Gunda Züllich et al.

Agriculture in Transformation. Concepts for agriculture production systems that are socially fair environmentally safe. Proceedings of the PSC Summer Schools 2014 and 2016. For download: https://doi.org/10.3929/ethz-b-000218321

Future demand in agricultural output is supposed to match the needs of 9 billion people with less input of resources. Can we transform our agricultural practices and move behind existing paradigms to develop innovative and sustainable agriculture production systems? A transformation of the regime is needed: a change in the socio-economic system through new narratives and diversification. Not driven by monopolizing technologies but supported by innovation, knowledge and careful evaluation of sustainable technologies and farming practices. What could be possible trajectories towards a sustainable agriculture and food system?

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