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Future proofing our plants


Proposals shall map, assess and prioritise the technologies and methodologies for plant (both terrestrial and aquatic) improvement with a focus on enhancing plant nutrition efficiency and yield, enhancing nutrition and sensory quality, and ensuring environmental protection. Existing and new approaches and technologies should be assessed to best encompass future research and innovation aiming at plant improvement, while developing a holistic approach to exploit the potential of plant research. Following the RRI principles, proposals should ensure that societal actors (researchers, citizens/CSOs, policy makers, businesses, etc.) are brought together to align the forthcoming research programmes with the values, needs, and expectations of society. Gender aspects should also be considered.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

It is well established that current food systems are under pressure due to the compounded effects of population growth, urbanisation, migration, resource scarcity, increasing demand for animal protein, land use change, climate change. Under certain circumstances, higher temperatures and CO2 concentration are leading to enhanced plant growth but often lower quality, with subsequent impact on food value chains. Also, food production systems strongly rely on plant resources for food or feed but also often depend on chemical inputs that could have negative impacts on both the environment and on human and animal health, resulting in lower system resilience and increased societal concerns. A plausible way to tackle the challenges is future proofing those plants' qualities that could serve as a path to increased nutrition security and sustainable food systems. Now the time has come to capitalise on the results of decades of extensive plant research, while strategically moving towards a system approach to food chains.

In the framework of SDG no 2, 12, 13 and 15, The EU's Bioeconomy Strategy 2012 and the Food 2030 Staff Working Document[[European Research and Innovation for Food and Nutrition Security, SWD(2016)319.]], proposals should explain how the activities included will contribute to:

  • In the short term (by 2020), better equipped research toolboxes providing prerequisites for future plant research in Europe;
  • Also in the short-term, assessment of the environmental, social and economic impact of existing and emerging technologies to provide complete information to all actors in the food system;
  • In medium term (2025), intensified international collaboration through better communication and standardisation of strategic plant research areas.
  • Also in the medium term, improved public awareness and trust ensuring a full understanding and uptake of novel technologies relative to plant improvement and nutrition security;
  • In the medium to long term, successful implementation of new technological advancements or practises enhancing plant nutrition efficiency, yield and quality into today's conventional methods of agriculture.