EASAC newsletter July 2014

News | Latest publications | Programme updates Energy Biosciences Environment


Workshop on Agricultural Biotechnology for Africa in Addis Ababa

EASAC held a workshop of scientists and policy-makers on Agricultural Biotechnology, together with the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) in Addis Ababa on 25-26 February 2014. The meeting was hosted by the UN's Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and also attended by senior representatives of the African Union Commission. From EU side, the Chief Scientific Advisor to Commission President Barroso, Professor Anne Glover, participated in the meeting. Together, the EU and African science academies gave their analysis and recommendations on crop genetic improvement technologies to the policy-makers present.

Regional Summit South East Europe in Budapest

The first EASAC Regional Summit "Science-into-Policy" took place on 20 March 2014 at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. The meeting showcased the substantial contribution made by the EU's national science academies in providing independent expert advice on a number of policy issues of relevance to the EU and its member states. Discussion focused on the recent EASAC reports on Extreme Weather Events, Crop Genetic Improvement Technologies and Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing. The event brought together scientists from the academies of South East Europe and representatives from the EU, member state governments and regulatory bodies.

Council meeting in Riga, May 2014

EASAC Council came together for its summer meeting 2014 in Riga/Latvia, on 22-23 May 2014, at the Latvian Academy of Sciences. Council endorsed the membership application of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and welcomed Professor Ivo Slaus as its representative. Chaired by the President of the Latvian Academy, Professor Ojars Sparitis, Council met with high-level Latvian scientists and policy-makers, who presented their national research and policy strategies. The Latvian Minister of Education & Science, Professor Ina Druviete, emphasised the importance of science for policy, also as a focus in the upcoming Latvian EU Council Presidency in 2015.

EASAC – JRC Brainstorming Workshop with Global Young Academy

As part of EASAC's ongoing cooperation with the EU Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), the two organisations have organised a Brainstorming Workshop with the Global Young Academy (GYA) and European national young academies on 11 July 2014 in Brussels. This meeting was organised to begin a process of exchange between Commission and young academies, to debate with excellent young minds some creative and innovative approaches to the complex societal challenges faced by Europe. Workshop participants were tasked with "thinking of the unthinkable" – of new emerging global challenges – and showing how science can help improve preparedness for future challenges.

New report on European Space Exploration coming up

EASAC will launch its new report "European Space Exploration: Strategic Considerations of Human versus Robotic Exploration" at the Académie des sciences in Paris in mid-September, just ahead of an important meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA). The report will be presented by EASAC Vice-President Thierry Courvoisier. A first response to the report will be given by Professor Thomas Reiter, ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations.

Latest publications

Risks to Plant Health

Building on EASAC's strength in the area of plant sciences, our latest report deals with the European situation regarding the introduction and spread of pests and diseases among food crops and other plant species in forestry, horticulture and natural habitats. This report by the EU's national science academies clarifies current gaps in EU analysis and management of plant health risks and highlights where science and innovation can contribute to improved surveillance, pest and pathogen characterisation and integrated control options for sustaining plant health.

Management of Spent Nuclear Fuel

In a report drafted together with the EU Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), EASAC has analysed the different options for handling spent nuclear fuel in so-called "open" and "closed" nuclear fuel cycles. The latter describes the reprocessing of spent fuel to separate the uranium and plutonium it contains so that they can be reused as new fuel. Whilst this cycle has advantages, much development still remains to be done. All options for nuclear fuel management are impacted by long timeframes, which make it necessary to keep alternatives available to accommodate future changes.

Programme updates

Energy Programme

Report on Management of Spent Nuclear Fuel to be launched

The joint EASAC-JRC report on the "Management of spent nuclear fuel and its waste" will be presented to the public in Brussels on 30 September. Senior European scientists will introduce the report and the main findings and recommendations will be discussed by representatives of the EU Commission, Parliament and European civil society.

Statement on Fracking soon to be published

EASAC is in the process of finalising a statement on Fracking in Europe, focusing on the particular challenges for the technologies involved in a European context. EASAC hopes to be able to present its recommendations to EU policy-makers and the wider public in Brussels in October.

Biosciences Programme

EASAC at the European Commission's Innovation Convention 2014

Jointly with the JRC, EASAC organised a Fringe Event on "Crop genetic improvement technologies for sustainable agricultural innovation" at the European Commission's Innovation Convention 2014, on 10-11 March 2014 in Brussels. The panel discussion focused on specific issues relating to New Breeding Technologies (NBTs) and other approaches to sustainable agricultural innovation. Participants agreed that in order to fully tap into the potential of crop genetic improvement technologies better policy coherence was required, exploiting the research and technologies that the EU was instrumental in generating.

Chairman Biosciences Programme comments on Synthetic Biology in 'Nature'

Based on EASAC's earlier work on "Synthetic Biology", the EASAC Biosciences Programme Chairman Volker ter Meulen, who currently serves as Co-Chair of IAP, the global network of science academies, gave a 'World View' commentary in Nature warning against current attempts to introduce a moratorium on the release and commercialisation of synthetic organisms and their products.

Environment Programme

EASAC – JRC working group on Marine Sustainability

An EASAC – JRC working group on the topic "Marine Sustainability" was established in late 2013, with the internationally renowned marine biologist Professor Jörn Thiede as Chairman. The meetings are supported by the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The working group has met twice in 2014, on 11 February in Brussels and 2-3 July 2014 at the JRC's Institute for Environment and Sustainability in Ispra, Italy. A report is being drafted which will cover biological aspects of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other area-based management mechanisms, as well as their effects and implementation strategies. The publication of this report is expected for early 2015.

EASAC working group "ESAPP"

A new EASAC working group deals with the topic "Ecosystem Services, Agriculture, Pollinators and Predators". It was established at the beginning of 2014 and has held its first meeting on 3 April in Frankfurt, Germany. Professor Peter Neumann, a specialist on Bee Health at the University of Bern, Switzerland, took on the role of Chairman. The working group will meet again in September 2014 in Brussels. The EASAC study looks at the critical interactions between agriculture and ecosystem services such as pollination and pest control by natural predators, and examines current trends and underlying factors including impacts from systemic insecticides.


EASAC - the European Academies' Science Advisory Council - is formed by the national science academies of the EU Member States to enable them to collaborate with each other in providing advice to European policy-makers.Find Out More

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