From 7-9 October ESA European Seed Association held its 2018 Annual Meeting in Madrid, Spain. This year’s event has set a new record of presence, with an attendance of 1050 participants from over 40 countries across the world.
During the meetings of the specific crop sections, participants got the latest updates and detailed information on many horizontal and crop-specific issues important for seed companies in Europe and worldwide such as the Common Agricultural Policy, the EU seed fraud network, new EU Plant Health rules, Research and Innovation, and Intellectual Property. A presentation was also given on the increasing concentration in seed markets by Koen Deconinck, from OECD.
Participants also had the chance to assist on debates on the future of Plant Breeding innovation in Europe, Brexit, Biodiversity (digital sequence information on genetic resources), the European Protein Plan and the future of Variety Testing.
In particular, during the panel discussion on Plant Breeding innovation after the ECJ ruling, some interesting conclusions emerged on the way forward for the European seed sector. The Commission encouraged the sector to craft a (legislative) solution so that plant breeding innovation can be continued in Europe in a way that the general audience would accept and like. The seed sector showed its commitment to find a solution, aligning with other groups and working with the Commission.
Moreover, as every year, large trade and exhibition facilities provided ample space for an atmosphere of professional exchange and interaction of participants, and exposure for companies showcasing the latest developments in technical equipment, mechanical components, processing technologies and plant breeding software.
Embracing innovation in rubber boots
The ESA wanted to use this year’s Annual Meeting to engage with the ESA membership and even a wider audience on its digital communication campaign “Embracing the Power of Nature”. All the participants were encouraged to visit the #EmbracingNature corner, the aim of which was to display the campaign, demonstrate that plant breeding is all about passion, innovation … and also rubber boots, and get the participants involved.
This year’s ESA Annual Meeting was also an opportunity to launch the series of ‘Dinner with Darwin’ videos with Jonathan Silvertown, which are now available on ESA's YouTube channel under the #EmbracingNature playlist.
Last but not least, ESA in cooperation with Anove organized a press conference with a number of Spanish journalists to talk about the importance of the sector and explain the negative consequences of the ECJ ruling for the future of farming and the whole of the society in the EU.
The next ESA Annual Meeting will be held from 13 to 15 October 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden.