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Austria: ESA annual meeting breaks records once more
The European Seed Association (ESA) held its 2015 Annual Meeting in Vienna, Austria, from 10 to 13 October, again bringing together more than 900 seed sector representatives from around the globe, with a growing participation from countries outside of the European Union. “This is a clear signal that this has meanwhile become a “can’t miss” event in the agenda of seed people worldwide,” Garlich v. Essen, Secretary General of ESA said in his Annual Report.
During the congress, the association specifically discussed the outcome of its internal strategic review. Next to promotion of research cooperation, advocating regulation that promote plant breeding innovation, as well as facilitated international movement of seed, ESA had a strong focus on collaboration and cooperation within the sector and of communicating its impressive positive socio-economic impacts to a wider public. “We had the opportunity to get a first look at the outcome of a study commissioned by the European Technology Platform Plants for the Future and I have to say that even we were surprised of the magnitude of the findings and both width and depth of plant breeding impact,” von Essen states.
For the first time in Vienna, ESA counted with the support of the Austrian Seed Association. “For Austria, as a small national economy for seed and plant breeding, it was a great honour to host the ESA Annual Meeting,” says Michael Gohn, chairman of Saatgut Austria, the organisation of plant breeders, seed merchants and seed traders in Austria. “In Austria we lost two percent of agricultural acreage in the past ten years, especially the wheat sector lost a lot of areas of cultivation. But we were able to raise production and quality. The Annual Meeting is a great chance to raise the significance and to show the importance of plant breeding for security of supply in Austria.”
At its concluding General Assembly, ESA also handed over a voluntary financial contribution of 300,000 EUR to the FAO’s International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, underlining the seed sector’s preference for this system of access and benefit sharing in comparison to the CBD and its Nagoya protocol and their implementation in EU law. “Nagoya simply doesn’t work for plant breeders” von Essen stated. “It will achieve the contrary of what it set out to do and lead to less breeding and with that less benefits to be shared with suppliers of genetic resources. It is just way too complicated and costly, especially for our small and medium sized companies. We therefore much prefer the more specific system of the FAO which is targeted towards breeding for food and agriculture.”