Another Successful Annual Meeting of the European Seed Association

Written on 11/13/2018
Marcel Bruins

From 7-9 October, the European Seed Association (ESA) held its 2018 Annual Meeting in Madrid, Spain. This year’s event has set a new record, with an attendance of 1050 participants from over 40 countries across the world, the importance of the ESA Congress for the European and international seed sector was once more confirmed.

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.

Deconinck @OECDagriculture provides a sneak preview of their study about concentration in seed markets at #Euroseeds2018 A lot of figures out in the public debate are misleading, he says. pic.twitter.com/ngJk4kfIgr

— ESA (@ESA_euroseeds) October 9, 2018

Participants also had the chance to assist to very inspiring and insightful 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.

How does the #seed sector feel about the ECJ ruling? Question from @ArunasVinciunas @Food_EU: can you craft a solution so that you create innovation here in Europe in a way that the general audience would accept and like? #Plantbreeding innovation debate at #Euroseeds2018 pic.twitter.com/vI29z3YEeG

— ESA (@ESA_euroseeds) October 9, 2018

Will #Plantbreeding innovation rest in peace? Panelists at #Euroseeds2018 believe not, but the patient is in the emergency room. Great analogy! Btw =>The seed #sector is committed to find a solution, aligning with other groups and working with EU Commission. pic.twitter.com/NL4IpkQ7Oo

— Valentina G. (@ValentinaGaroia) October 9, 2018

The annual meeting was an opportunity for 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

ESA wanted to use this year’s Annual Meeting to engage with the ESA membership and even a wider audience on our 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, reminding participants about the boots on the ground when it comes to the agriculture sector.

ESA is delighted that its members and other participants strongly supported our communication efforts by liking and sharing messages, and by bringing many additional, fresh ideas to the campaign.

This year’s annual meeting was also a great opportunity to launch the series of ‘Dinner with Darwin’ videos with Jonathan Silvertown, which are now available on the ESA YouTube channel under the #EmbracingNature playlist; videos include ‘Wine Tale’, The (hi)story of bread, or an interesting plant breeding story of cabbage. ESA is encouraging all to watch these videos explaining what evolution has to do with our food.

Last but not least, ESA in cooperation with Anove organized a successful 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.

To get a few snapshots of the event and get to know more about our “Embracing the Power of Nature” campaign check the hashtags: #Euroseeds2018 and #EmbracingNature, or visit the website of the campaign: http://plantbreeding.eu/.

The next ESA Annual Meeting will be held from 13 to 15 October 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Note for the ESA members: All the presentations will be made available soon on the ESA website in the members area, under Assembly General.