The European Seed Association (ESA) officially presented its ‘Speak up for Seeds’ Vision to Members of Parliament and the Commission. Next to representatives from the seed sector and policy advisors, the event was also attended by Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan and by the Deputy Head of Cabinet of Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, Mrs. Nathalie Chaze.

The event followed up on the own initiative report of MEP Paulsen on plant breeding innovation entitled ‘What options to increase quality and yields?’ and adopted by the EP in January 2014. In this report, the Parliament defined plant breeding innovation as crucial for successfully addressing the grand challenges of food security, sustainable farming, healthy lifestyles and climate change.

“We need a strong and competitive European research on plant breeding. I get really sad and disappointed when I see how business after business in the plant breeding sector moves their research about future plant breeding techniques to other parts of the world, especially the US. This makes it really difficult for Europe to compete globally and to preserve the European genetic and cultural diversity.” MEP Paulsen stated.

Based upon the report, ESA has developed its own ideas, outlining the seed sector’s current and future priorities. “This Vision Document ´Speak up for Seeds’ is our concrete response to the challenge put to the sector by Members of the European Parliament.” Garlich v. Essen, Secretary General of ESA stated in the discussion.

“Plant breeding is among the fundamental activities to ensure food security. There is a need to highlight the importance of research and innovation in field of agriculture.” - stated Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan - “I encourage you [ESA] to keep the issue at the forefront of public attention, as you have been doing.”

In his conclusion, von Essen announced that “The high level participation to this event by decision makers of the European Parliament and Commission as well as the rich discussion are an important confirmation of the importance Europe attaches to plant breeding innovation. We are very much looking forward to continue and further broaden this debate in the coming months.”