Summary of the Open- Day on “Biotechnology and Safety in Modern Agriculture”

A one-day conference in the form of an Open-Day event on “Biotechnology and Safety in Modern Crop Protection” was organized on the 17th December 2012, by BPI and hosted in its premises in Athens. The Open-Day event aimed at disseminating achievements of BPI Plant Heal to the public (industry, NGO’s, and mandated bodies e.g Ministries, Universities) and to other scientists (scientific societies, other research institutes, etc). The event, attended by 84 participants, was opened by Mr Maximos Charakopoulos, Deputy Minister of the Hellenic Ministry of Rural Development and Food.
In his opening address, Mr Charakopoulos emphasized that agriculture can and should become the driving force for the economy of the country. It is thus imperative that advanced agricultural research is conducted at research centers and universities to support agricultural production, by utilizing modern tools and methodologies based on the latest developments on biotechnology and molecular biology, striving to produce results that benefit the production sector and that go beyond the borders of the country.
He continued extolling the substantial role of FP7 funding and especially the Regional Potential projects towards achieving this goal, and stated that such projects should be a priority of the national development strategy. Mr Charakopoulos referred to the new Common Agriculture Policy 2014-2020 and its bridging role between research and agricultural practice. In particular, he stated that 4,5 bn Euros have been forecasted through the Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation, towards research on food security, bio-economy and sustainable farming.
The event continued with a presentation of BPI and its research activities and projects, by Dr Christina Varveri, Director of the Phytopathology Department of BPI (BPI Director Dr Kiriaki Machera was not able to attend). Dr Emilia Markellou, Coordinator of BPI Plant-Heal, presented the highlights of the project and gave an account of its progress and milestones, introducing the research presentations of BPI staff that followed. BPI researchers presented the research subjects and goals achieved through the project and especially through the collaborations with the participating International Centers of Excellence (UNEW, INRA and IVIA). The Open Day continued with the invited speakers presenting the role of biotechnology and molecular biology tools on modern agriculture, as seen through their expertise.
The Open Day event was an excellent opportunity for introducing the general public to the benefits and risks posed by modern biotechnological and molecular biology methods, as reflected by the fruitful discussion, at the end of the day. The wide range of subjects addressed by the speakers provided an opportunity for a constructive debate among the various stakeholders. Participants of the Open Day had the opportunity to visit laboratories of the Institute and discuss with its scientists the various aspects of their work and to see the P2/P3 greenhouse in its advanced construction stage.
Overall, the Open Day event helped in the dissemination of scientific knowledge on biotechnology and molecular biology both among agronomy specialists and the general public and provided the opportunity to debate about the pros and cons of these technologies in simple terms and in a comprehensible way. A key message received was that agricultural biotechnology is a broad spectrum technology with applications that are useful for the support and development of agriculture. Most important was the understanding that biotechnology applications in agriculture are not just about genetic modification of organisms (GMOs) but they include a wide range of useful tools.
As demonstrated by the high quality of presentations, there are currently in Greece several ‘islands of excellence’ in research. The challenge is to bring together these groups and to make their results available to all stakeholders of the agricultural sector and the general public. Infrastructure, such the P2/P3 containment greenhouse constructed under the aegis of BPI Plant-Heal RegPot project, was deemed an invaluable platform for future collaborations.
This was the first time BPI organizes an event on Biotechnology and this was made possible due to the knowledge acquired by the scientific personnel and the recruitment of experienced scientists. In addition, all three workshops organized through the project contributed to make reality such an event.


Presentations Agenda Poster Leaflet

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