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Minutes of the Union of European Academies of Agriculture, Food and Nature (U E A A) Steering Committee Meeting

19.12. 2022

Wednesday 6 October 2022, 10:00 a.m. Paris time (Hybrid meeting : LINK: ZOOM https://uniag.link/XMG4f)

Attendees: Guram Aleksidze (Georgian Academy of Agricultural Sciences) President ; Michel Thibier (French Academy of Agriculture), Elena Horska (Slovak Academy of Agricultural Science), Zenonas Dabkevičius (Lithuanian Academy of Sciences), Ioan Jelev (Rumanian Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences), Vilem Podrazsky (Czech Academy of Agricultural Sciences), Baiba Rizva (Latvian Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences), Kerstin Niblaeus (Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry), Simone Orlandini (member of the Scientific-Technical Committee of Academy of Georgofili, Italy), Tomas Garcia Azcarate (National Association of Agricultural Engineering, Spain), Evi Arachoviti (Great Britain, Innovation for Agriculture), Nazim Gruda (Academy of Science of Albania).
Absentees: Ieroslav Gadzalo (National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine), Maria Salome Pais (Portugal, Lisbon Academy of Sciences).

A G E N DA

  1. Welcome address by President of UEAA G. Aleksidze
  2. Approval of the minutes of the 29 June 2022 meeting
  3. Short information about UEAA activities from the period 2020-2022
    – Professor Guram Aleksidze
  4. Brief information about GA and Symposium meetings in Slovakia
    – Professor Elena Horska
  5. Election of new “Observer” from Albania Prof. Nazim Gruda;
  6. About International Symposium on “Horticultural Society in Romania”
    – Professor Ioan Jelev
  7. Organization questions:
    – Next SC meeting (zoom).
  8. Close of the meeting.

#1. Welcome address by President of UEAA G. Aleksidze
President G. Aleksidze called to order the committee at 10.00 h, October 6, 2022. He welcomed the participants of the S C meeting and said that it would be a very busy day as besides the SC meeting, the General Assembly would be held and then a symposium. Then he asked to approve the minutes from the past Meeting of the 29 June 2022, which was sent out for revision to each member of S C. After, he asked meeting participants to ask questions, if they have any, in regards to the Agenda of present meeting, which had been sent to them prior to the meeting. After receiving positive answers from the members, the President wished them a fruitful work during the meeting.

#2. Approval of the minutes of the 29 June 2022 meeting
The minutes were unanimously approved. Then the President shared the issues, which were on the agenda and asked the colleagues to approve the Agenda of the present meeting.
The participants approved the Agenda of the Meeting unanimously and the meeting proceeded to the next issue.

#3. Short information about UEAA activities from the period 2020-2022
Professor Guram Aleksidze gave a short outline of the work which had been carried out during an extended period of time when he was a Vice president first, and then elected president of UEAA.
His report on work done during the period underscored the following issues: increase of the number of the members of the UEAA, interaction with the EU Commission on the topical matters, and enhancing communication among UEAA members. Also, launching in 2022 the UEAA monthly Newsletter. During the report period, he mentioned, 7 sessions of the Steering Committee had been held by Zoom. In addition, three members were elected as observers to the Steering Committee from Portugal, Spain and Great Britain.
A total of 56 issues were discussed during the reporting period, namely, a. Recommendations for the promotion of agriculture for the the period of corona virus; b. Making changes in the European legislation on the use of genetically modified organisms of plants and animals in the light of new discoveries in genetics; c. UEAA meeting with the “ Forest team” of EU Commission Directorate ; d. UEAA Best Abstract scientific competition; e. UEAA Monthly Newsletter; f, Updating on the UEAA web site. g. Three International Conference held in Tbilisi during the presidency, vice presidency and membership of the Steering Committee of UEAA of Academician Guram Aleksidze ( 2017-2019- 2022).
(Full report has been published in a UEAA Newsletter, #7, 2022.)

#4. Brief information about GA and Symposium meetings in Slovakia Professor Elena Horska,
Academy of Agriculture, Slovakia.
E. Horska gave a full report about the upcoming symposium in Slovakia which will be held in a hybrid form. Also, she added that General Assembly would be organized later, the same day. She also shared some details about the agenda of symposium.
M Thibier mentioned that it would be appropriate to have a SC meeting after the GA so as to take into account what will have been decided in the GA. E. Horska mentioned that due to lack of time, it would be difficult. K Niblaeus made the proposal to continue the discussion at this meeting as time is available including the fact that what would be decided would of course be dependent on the GA decisions at the GA meeting the following afternoon.
The proposal of new Steering Committee members was an important issue to be discussed during the meeting, namely who will be elected as new members. E Horska proposed that she would present a list of SC members at General Assembly
President G Aleksidze confirmed his agreement to stay as a member of SC. So, E. Horska continued to read out the names of 10 persons including Past President G Aleksidze who will be members of the Future SC committee and three persons as observers from Great Britain, Spain and Portugal.
Guram Aleksidze and other members of the Committee supported all ten candidates named as the SC members and the three observers currently in office.

#5. Election of a new “Observer” from Albania Prof. Nazim Gruda;
G Aleksidze presented the candidate, said that he had read his CV, and is sure that he would be a good asset to the organization.
Prof. Nazim Gruda, who is a candidate of being elected as an observer of the SC, was asked to to talk about his biography and professional career. He shared the most important facts of his education, professional and career development with the colleagues and underscored his particular interest towards the work of the UEAA. At the end of his speech, he expressed his great wish to support the ongoing projects and further contribute to all other planned activities.
M Thibier asked if he would become an active member of UEAA and attend meetings on regular basis. N Gruda promised to be an active member of UEAA. Also he asked G Aleksidze what the procedure is, and whether he would be able to become a full member of UEAA after being an observer for two years.
M. Thibier answered that it is a recent decision of the S C to designate new persons for election first as observers, who, may later become full members.
Also, he added, that formally an observer becomes a member of UEAA after election which is to take place at the following G A this afternoon.

#6. About International Symposium on “Horticultural Society in Romania”

  • President Guram Aleksidze gave floor to Professor Ioan Jelev, who spoke about the Symposium on “Horticultural Society in Romania” which would be held in Romania, in September 2023, Bucharest, the following year. The presentation prepared by Jelev was shared on the screen and he gave a detailed account of the main topics of the Symposium. There were some problems with the sound, so, after a short pause, Jelev started his presentation. He was short, and added that he would not go into further details and kindly invited the members to
    participate in the symposium.
  • M Thibier asked how the applicants could apply for participation. I Jelev answered that they would upload the mail address, and all information necessary for registration will be on the link. Also, a designated person would be in charge of registration, answering all questions of those who wish to participate. I Jelev also mentioned that the Symposium would be focused on problems of South-East Europe, but, he added, there would be more countries presented, such as, scientists from China and Asia, which would extend the scale of the the scientific discussion outlined initially by the organizers. The speaker also contended that some support should be extended to young scientists, from this point of view active communication between different generations of scientists should be maintained.
  • G Aleksidze inquired whether the people from Caucasia would participate n to the Symposium. I Jelev answered that participants are not yet present from this region and asked G Aleksidze to help and disseminate the information in the region as the participants from Caucasus region would be very welcomed by the organizers.

#7. Elena Horska presented the information about the activities that took place in 2022, and those which are scheduled for the 2023.
M Thibier presented the Analysis of contributions to the public consultation of the European Commission for legislation for plants produced by certain new genomic techniques (April-July 2022). As mentioned in June, UEAA has participated to this consultation and his contribution was well acknowledged. In brief: overall, there were 2300 contributors out of which 2200 individuals. Germany, Italy, France and Spain were the Member-states contributing to three quarters of the responses. Most respondents self-identifies as EU Citizens (65%) followed by academic/research institutions (9.0%) and companies/business organizations (7.8%). It was noted that 79% participants to the consultation found that the existing provisions of the GMO legislation are not adequate for plants obtained by targeted mutagenesis or cisgenesis. 17% found the current GMO provisions adequate for plants produced by targeted mutagenesis or cisgenesis .61% of the total consultation respondents believed that maintaining plants produced by targeted mutagenesis and cisgenesis under the current framework is expected to have short-, medium- or long-term consequences in their activity or sector.
So, the results of the survey revealed that the existed provisions were not adequate, which is a very important point in favor of future changes.

So, it can be concluded that UEAA has played a positive role in promotion of the above mentioned problem.

Elena Horska thanked M Thibier on behalf of UEAA for his important involvement in this critical topic and for sharing such important information

Elena Horska continued with some organizational issues re- future work of the UEAA, such as,

    1. Problem of UEAA Website. After brief debates, it was decided to continue working with Marek, who had been engaged in this work for many years. Furthermore, it was proposed that some innovations should be made in this area. M. Thibier also reminded about the annual payment for the sustainable work of UEAA official website and that the country of the president of UEAA, is responsible for this payment.
      Mr. Podrazsky said he would take care of organization of this problem.
    2. Next issue discussed was a newsletter and E. Horska asked the meeting participants to show initiative and name who would be responsible for publication of the newsletters for the coming months October, November and December in 2022. After a short discourse, Spain, Rumania and Latvia responded, but the final decision on this issue was not reached E Horska confirmed that she would take care of the October issue and that she will see for the other two 2022 issues with her colleagues.
    3. The issue of publication Abstracts was discussed. Some members argued that it worked in some academies, but others were not involved in the competition for the best abstract. Zenonas Dabkevičius (Lithuanian Academy of Sciences), said that his academy sent two abstracts but added that it is enough and that he would not support any continuation of this project. Other members also presented some arguments against the Best Abstract Competition. Namely, it was mentioned that it was complicated, that the first year experience showed that the scientists normally publish abstracts in scientific proceedings, journals. In addition, it would be difficult to get money to award the best abstract. G. Aleksidze continued the debate, saying that though they expected to get about one hundred abstracts, there were only 30 abstracts sent for publication. He also mentioned that the first experienced showed that the initiative did not become as popular as it was expected, and was supported only by some academies. Georgian Academy initiated this project and initial plan was to proceed and publish the abstracts and then confer diplomas to the best abstracts, because it was clear that getting money for this purpose would be complicated. To summarize his speech, G. Aleksidze offered to halt this project at the end of the year and postpone the discussion about it later.
      M. Thibier suggested that each member should write a half or one page stipulating his/her opinion in regards to this problem and sent it. Therefore, the meeting accepted Elena Horska’s approach said that the final decision should be drawn later and would have to be decided at our next meeting in December so as to decide whether or not we continue in 2023.
    4. The last issue to be discussed at SC meeting was working on Forestry Strategy.
      Kerstin Niblaeus (Swedish Academy) commented that a special electronic working group had been sat up who will be engaged in dealing with Forestry Strategy.
      The Academy of Romania said that they would be dealing with this problem and would support the idea of organizing the electronic way of exchanging information in the field of forestry.

At the end of the meeting Elena Horska informed the participants about the activities planned for the
day and the exact time of the beginning of the General Assembly.

Closing of the meeting
President G Aleksidze thanked the SC members for their contribution in 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 had been addressed.
The participants also thanked very much Academician Guram Aleksidze for his dedication to the success of the organization, and for maintaining peaceful, supportive and effective communication among UEAA members during his presidency.