Minutes of the Union of European Academies of Agriculture, Food and Nature (U E A A) Steering Committee Meeting
by Visio conference from Tbilisi 29 June 2022, from 10.00 a.m. Paris time (Approved by the Steering Committee on 5 October 2022)
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Attendees: Guram Aleksidze (Georgian Academy of Agricultural Sciences); Michel Thibier (French Academy of Agriculture), Zenonas Dabkevičius (Lithuanian Academy of Sciences), Kerstin Niblaeus (Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry), Elena Horska (Slovak Academy of Agricultural Science), Ioan Jelev (Rumanian Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences), Baiba Rivza (Latvian Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences), Evi Arachoviti (Great Britain, Innovation for Agriculture).
Absentees : Maria Salome Pais (Academia das Ciências de Lisboa (ACL), Tomas Garcia Azcarate (National Association of Agricultural Engineering, Spain,), Simone Orlandini (Academy of Georgofili, Italy), Vilem Podrazsky (Czech Academy of Agricultural Sciences), Iaroslav Gadzalo (National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine).
A G E N D A
- Welcome address by President. Approval of the minutes of the 11 March 2022 meeting;
- Short information about International Conference “Mechanization and technology in Europe and perspectives” which been organized in Tbilisi (May 27-28) – Prof. G.
- International Conference in Slovakia – Prof. E. Horska,
- Situation on “Best Abstract” (March-May) – G. Aleksidze.
- Situation on Gene Editing, news from European Commission – Prof. M. Thibier.
- Organization questions:
– Approval of next SC meeting and General Assembly in Slovakia (beginning of October) – Prof. E. Horska.
- Close of the meeting.
#1. Welcome by President of the UEAA, Professor Guram Aleksidze. Approval of the minutes of the 11 March 2022 meeting.
The President of the UEAA, Professor Guram Aleksidze welcomed the meeting participants and wished them fruitful work during the meeting. He expressed his deep concern in regards to continuation of the war in Ukraine.
First he asked the participants to say if they agree with the Minutes of the March 11, 2022 meeting; All participants said they did, but there has been one mistake made referring to the Ukrainian plant repository, it was the Rumanian Academy which was involved, thanks to them.
Then the president shared the issues, which were on the agenda and asked the colleagues to approve the Agenda of the present meeting.
The Agenda of the Meeting was approved unanimously by the participants and the meeting proceeded to the next issue.
#2. Short information about International Conference “Mechanization and technology in Europe and perspectives” which was held in Tbilisi, at the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, on May 27-28, 2022, organized by GAAS. Presenter – Prof. G. Aleksidze.
The UEAA President made a short presentation about the Conference held at the GAAS in Tbilisi. He mentioned that the Conference in spite of some technical difficulties was well organized. Together with Georgian and European scientists – France, Latvia, Sweden, Ukraine, Hungary and the Czech Republic – took an active part in the international scientific conference, which is a very important fact. The scientific papers were presented by: President of the Academy Acad. Guram Aleksidze, President of the Latvian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Dr. Prof. Baiba Rivza, who arrived to Tbilisi to physically participate to the Conference; Academician of the French Academy of Agricultural Sciences Michel Thibier, Vice President of the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine, Acad. Yuri Lupenko, Professor of the French Academy of Agricultural Sciences, René Autellet, President of the Swedish Royal Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Kerstin Niblaeus and Associate Professor Per Frankelius, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Prof. B. Ambrus, Academician-Secretary of the Scientific Department of Agricultural Engineering Sciences of the Georgian Academy of Agricultural Sciences Acad. Revaz Makharoblidze, Academician Alexander Didebulidze, Prof. Nugzar Ebanoidze, Prof. Gela Javakhishvili, Acad. Zaur Putkaradze, Prof. Roman Margalitadze, Acad. E. Shapakidze, Prof. Omar Tedoradze and others, dealt with the present problems of mechanization and its prospects. In total, 26 reports of 44 scientists in the field of agricultural mechanization were presented at the conference, including 8 reports of 11 scientists from EU countries.
The speaker presented the information about the significance of the problems discussed during the Conference. He also said that the two – Georgian and Latvian Academies of Agriculture signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in the framework of the Conference. He also said that it would be very beneficial for both sides if Georgia, Swedish and Check Academies also signed an Agreement about Institutional cooperation in different fields, such as forestry, or plant genetic resources. This type of cooperation will raise the importance of our academies and will make it more significant, so the President of UEAA once again addressed the colleagues to think about the benefits of close cooperation between the academies.
He also said that the abstracts and texts of the scientific papers were published in the Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference, the electronic version of which were sent to the authors of the articles, as well as the hard copies.
At the end of his speech, Acad. G. Aleksidze thanked all who participated to the Conference, and asked Elena Horska to speak about the scientific conferences organized in Slovekia.
#3. International Conference in Slovakia – Prof. E. Horska.
Prof. E. Horska gave brief information about the international conference held in Slovekia, “Sustainable and Efficient Agriculture Food Systems”, and said they had participants from Central European universities. They had about 100 participants. They have several partner universities in Ukraine, from whom they got interesting papers, so the conference was organized in a hybrid format to give opportunity to their Ukrainian colleagues to take part in the conference. Also there was an Open Call as a part of Horizon 20/20. In general, she said, May was a very busy month, two conferences, and also some the preparations for the beginning of a new academic year at the University.
#4. Situation on “Best Abstract” (March-May) – G. Aleksidze.
The speaker, Prof. G. Aleksidze spoke about the Best Abstract and asked the attendees to express their opinions in regards of the publication of the Best Abstract. He said that for three months, they got more than twenty abstracts but this number is not enough and asked the colleagues to accelerate the process and send more abstracts.
Prof. Michel Thibier supports this scientific competition aimed at attracting more Academy members. This has not been successful so far but this is the very first year. He said that the number of the abstracts reached 22 and it should be increased first by the Academy members of the Steering Committee. So hopefully, there will be more abstracts, and we shall get organized by the end of 2022 to make the selection and decide which of these Abstracts will be awarded.
#5. Situation on Gene Editing, news from European Commission- Prof. M. Thibier.
Professor Michel Thibier explained the current situation regarding this Public Consultation referring to the “E U Commission Legislation for plants produced by certain new genomic techniques”
Following the last S C meeting in March, UEAA will participate to this Public Consultation and Professor M Thibier is organizing the task as a follow up of the previous actions taken by UEAA. The deadline for this consultation is 22 July 20221.
1 To date (29 June 2022), the UEAA EWG is still working on the file, and prepares the responses to the long questionnaire that is requested for this public consultation from the EU Commission. The full text is expected to be ready by the first week of July. It is quite a job and M Thibier appreciates the work done so far by this EWG of UEAA on Gene Editing.
2 Regarding the process to get through and have our file introduced in the EU public consultation document, the situation is not so great. As UEAA is an Association and not an individual person, the process is very complicated and has a two steps procedure: (1) to get registered on the so-called “Transparency Register” and (2) fill the questionnaire and comments of this consultation per se. Professor M Thibier went through all kinds of complications these two last weeks. He had to search for some help, which he eventually found and was addressed to a web site ultimately to try to move on, to the extent that he so far got a temporary statement “regarding the UEAA application for the registration submitted on 27/6/2022. The Secretariat of the Transparency Register is tasked with deciding upon the eligibility of applicants and monitoring the content of the Register, as set out in point (c) of Article 8(3) of the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA)”. He added that he could understand that such administrative documents have to be taken carefully and cautiously but the least he could day is that it is not a friendly exercise and such efforts are painful, cumbersome and discouraging.
Dr. Kerstin Niblaeus confirms that there is a lot of bureaucracy on the way. The problem is to get to a right person, who could help to get them through.
#6. Organization questions: Approval of next SC meeting and General Assembly in Slovakia (beginning of October) – Prof. E. Horska.
The President Guram Aleksidze addressed E. Horska and specified that as the Vice-President and next UEAA President in autumn, she is the person who is responsible for organizing the coming conference. E. Horska replied that it is a big responsibility and will continue her work in the way the current president did. She promised that she would do her best to be on the level.
She also said that supposedly, the Conference will be organized in the early autumn and enquired about the format of the conference, whether the SC members and other participants would be able to attend in person. Her next question was about the expected number of of conference participants. Most members of the meeting took part in the discussion about the coming conference sharing their experience.
President Guram Aleksidze emphasizes the need to get not only Steering Committee members but also other members of the UEAA. He said he remembers Paris Meeting (2016) when many members were attending, about 20 from UEAA, and many from the French Academy itself. Also in Georgia, when the Conference was organized, besides the UEAA members there were Georgian colleagues and scientists from different countries who presented their papers at the conference.
Professor Michel Thibier enquired about the possible date and place for holding the General Assembly. Initially the city of Bratislava was mentioned, but as E. Horska said, it was not decided so far, and she consulted the SC members regarding the date, time and place for this meeting including G Assembly, SC meeting and a symposium.
Elena wanted to hear from the colleagues whether a meeting of a Steering Committee, General Assembly and a scientific conference be held together. Professor Michel Thibier replied: “yes those three events should be held together as usual and in a correct sequence”.
As for the date, it would be best time to organize it on October 5-6, just before the weekend, so that the participants could spent a few days in the city.
Prof. Elena Horska’s question whether she has to book some hotels, Michel Thibier replied that she has to select a few hotels and send the list to the participants. As for the expenses, usually they are covered by the academies of the participants.
The most important issue was the conference topic. E. Horska offered a few topics, such as, food crises, sustainability in food production.
Prof. Baiba Rivza supported the idea of food sustainability being a topic of the coming conference. Also, it was mentioned that if we want people to come, especially new members, a kind of official letter from the Academy of Slovakia about the the Conference would be of great support.
At the end, Elena promised to come up with her decisions on the organization – whether it will be held in a hybrid form, about the title of conference and other details in a month time and that she will upload the information on the UEAA website for further discussion.
The S C participants expressed their opinion about the topic and the title of the conference, and encouraged Elena to move ahead and expressing their support and help if necessary
#7 The Meeting also discussed some other organizational issues, such as the publication of the UEAA monthly newsletter.
M. Thibier talked about the newsletters, about who and when will prepare the newsletter. It was decided that Guram Aleksidze will prepare a newsletter in September about the work done during his presidency, and in October, Elena Horska will prepare the newsletter about future perspectives during her Presidency.
#8. Closing of the meeting.
The President Guram Aleksidze thanked the SC members for their contribution to the present discussion appreciating the positive productive work of the Meeting.
The participants also gave a positive evaluation to the meeting and said the information they shared was important and much needed, and that all items included on the agenda were also addressed. At the end, Professor Elena Horska thanked the members for support. Also she proposed some topics for the October newsletter.
The meeting ended at 11.50 am