Arabidopsis research is of undeniable importance for us, plant scientists. The massive volume of data generated since the completion of the Arabidopsis genome project and the ongoing functional studies not only have and still will clarify fundamental aspects of biological processes, but also represent a potent basis for crop improvement.
This understanding, however, may not be clear among the major public. Members of the plant science community share a duty in reporting the impacts, applications, benefits and drawbacks of their research to the society in a responsible and transparent way. By doing so, we are able to increase awareness, fire up interest and tackle misconceptions that influence people's responses and policymakers' decisions.
The AFGN outreach section serves as a communication channel between scientists and non-scientists. Below you will find useful links on German and European efforts in communicating plant science, as well as relevant information concerning plant biotechnological approaches and GMO legislation in the EU and worldwide. If you know any initiative not listed here, please do contact us!
Plant science and the society
An initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, as a public relations platform for the PLANT 2030 programme for fostering research with biotechnological application. Particularly interesting for teachers, pupils and students is the menu "Schule & Studium", where plant-related pedagogic resources are available. On the menu "Journal" you will find easily read articles focusing on recent scientific findings in plant research (in German).
The Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research aims with this lovely project to fire up the curiosity of citizens from all ages about the research carried out at the institute. Guests can view hundreds of crop varieties on the "teaching and display garden" and visit 17 interactive stations in the "Science Barn" (in German).
To be held in June 2016, this is one of the institute's initiatives to present the research activities to the public. The MPI-Tübingen also organises the "BOGY-Praktikum", a trainee option for pupils, the "Girls' Day", guided school visits and the science fair of the University of Tübingen (in German).
The MPI in Jena invites pupils for visiting the labs and participating in workshops. Next event will take place on 28 April 2016 (in German).
The MPI of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam-Golm organises guided tours in the institute's greenhouses and open areas. The initiative focuses on school classes but students, tourists and visitors interested in plant research are welcome (infos in German).
Another initiative of the MPI of Molecular Plant Physiology, "Frag die Erbse" is a booklet series dealing with modern plant research and genetic engineering. The idea is to explain the history and basics of plant science in a comprehensible way (in German).
Genetically Modified crops: The current EU scenario
The rapid growth of the world population and climate changes call for an efficient generation of crops with improved performance. In order to ensure sustainable and productive farming, there is an urgent need for advances in breeding technologies and, most importantly, efficient regulatory frameworks for cultivation and/or use of crops generated by them. The engagement of plant scientists is crucial not only for the development of such techniques, but also for transparently informing about their application among citizens, farmers, industry, stakeholders and policymakers.
Below you will find links with information driving the discussions on the cultivation and food/feed use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Europe. The materials cover topics such as the legislation in force in the EU, to the new breeding techniques currently available, including the claims of several institutions to revise the regulation of crops generated via these new techniques.
- EU regulation on GM food and feed
- EU directive for the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment
- Directive for the possibility of EU Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory
- Questions and Answers on EU's policies on cultivation and imports of GMOs
German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL)
- BVL - General information on genetic engineering
- German regulation on genetic engineering
- General recommendations of the Central Committee on Biological Safety (ZKBS)
New Tools for Plant Breeding: Perspectives & Recommendations
- BVL opinion on the legal classification of New Plant Breeding Techniques
- Position statement of the ZKBS on New Plant Preeding Techniques
- Recommendation of the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) on New Breeding Techniques
- EASAC policy report: Planting the future
- The German Plant Breeders' Association: "New Tools for Plant Breeding – to ensure Progress and Diversity"
- Article: "EU Perspectives on New Plant-Breeding Techniques"
- Commentary: "A proposed regulatory framework for genome-edited crops"
- Commentary: "Europe’s genetically edited plants stuck in legal limbo"
Interesting links and resources
- Pimp your brain! An MPI initiative, scientists explain techniques used in the labs using uncomplicated terms
- Plant Science Tree: Tool for Research Engaged Education, with over 2,000 downloadable research-informed material for educational use
- Science in the Classroom: An NSF/Science AAAS initiative, annotated research papers with teaching material. For Arabidopsis-related reports, please click here
- GARNet resources: A complete list of useful tools and resources for Arabidopsis researchers
- Araport: The Arabidopsis Information Portal
- BAR: Web-based tools for visualizing functional genomics and other data
- uNASC: The European Arabidopsis Stock Centre, holding seeds stocks, clones and more
- TAIR: The Arabidopsis Information Resource
- T-DNA Express: Arabidopsis Gene Mapping Tool