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EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 23 to projects amount to 50 per cent as is the case with industrial research in the Netherlands for applied research it is 80 per cent private research institutions face problems maintaining critical mass in certain disciplines especially those most relevant to farmers and small enterprises. These institutions find it hard to bring together sufficient funds for projects on for example plant tissue culture. This problem is much less pronounced in France where the National Institute for Agricultural Research still has basic government funding of 80 per cent. Policies towards public-private cooperation may also go too far. The Netherlands is now also promoting private co-funding in fundamental research. There is a serious risk that this will pull down fundamental research funding to the more applied topics disregarding the starting point of the innovation pipeline fundamental research based on the curiosity and creativity of top-level scientists. We continue to need blue-sky ideas as the basis of breakthrough innovations. Plant breeding is by definition a science based on the combined efforts of plant science agronomy and genetics. We have benefited greatly from ideas derived from mathematics statistical breeding methods organic chemistry molecular biology and information technology bioinformatics. We dont know which scientific discipline will provide the next positive disruption that revolutionises plant breeding. Such blue- sky developments will likely not come from breeding companies so we need to nurture universities where crazy ideas are allowed to be pursued. Such universities will also produce the best creative minds that will further develop our industry. If we as the commercial seed sector could determine the programmes at universities I fear we would weed out the craziest scientists as unproductive. Our conclusion here is that public-private collaboration is excellent as a leading principle in innovation policies but it should not be taken too far. Finally there is another component of innovation influenced by policies whether or not we can actually use our plant breeding innovations. A case in point is the current worldwide debate on whether or not the products of precision breeding methods need to be regulated. However in most countries IT IS HIGH TIME THE INNOVATION PRINCIPLE IS PUT ON EQUAL FOOTING WITH THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE IN THIS DISCUSSION. NIELS LOUWAARS the debate is not about innovation but about risks ethics and power. It is not part of the innovation policies which is one of the main reasons why it takes so long to get clarity in many countries about gene-editing methods cisgenesis and other breeding methods. It is high time the innovation principle is put on equal footing with the precautionary principle in this discussion. Research policies are a very important part of government involvement in the seed sector and thus an essential focus of lobbying by seed associations. At Plantum we continually try to illustrate the benefits of plant breeding for society in terms of our contribution to sustainable crop production and to product qualities for consumers and industry. However when it comes to involving the general public it is difficult to explain the need for public support for continued innovation in plant sciences. How do you explain the promise of precision breeding to people who have no clue what plant breeding isheredity is not part of biology curricula at secondary schools anymore even now that we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Mendels laws. We at Plantum spend quite a lot of energy on innovation policies in the Netherlands yielding both successes and frustrations. Editors Note Niels Louwaars is the managing director of Plantum and also highly active on several boards in the seed and agriculture industry. Hazera is a global leader in the seed industry. Hazera brings you expertise innovation and local support. We grow hand-in-hand with our partners. The success of our customers is at the heart of everything we do. Expertise Innovation Support Committed to Growing Together