b'ES: WHY SHOULD EUROPE INVEST IN BIOSTIMULANTS?KS:Plant biostimulants are general non-hazardous, cost-ef-fective, and give farmers an important new tool to help them farm profitably under increasingly volatile conditions. They can play an important role in helping to meet policy objectives like reducing fertilizer applications through greater efficiency (Farm to Fork Strategy) and helping achieve climate-smart agricul-ture. They also play a role in maintaining and even restoring or improving soil health. When biostimulants promote root growth and the root mass is left in the ground, that increases the soil carbon content. Microbial biostimulants improve soil micro-biodiversity. Healthy soil provides several ecosystem ser-vices including protecting against erosion, retaining water and nutrients, and carbon sequestration.Biostimulants also contribute to the circular economy. For example, the animal by-products and some of the plant materials used to make hydrolysed proteins are secondary raw materi-als from other value chains. Microalgae need carbon dioxide to grow, and one of EBICs members sources its CO2 from a neigh-bouring energy plant. Lignosulfonates are a by-product of paper manufacturing. Chitin is sourced from seafood and insect shells. These are just a few examples of how the biostimulants sector contributes to circularity and waste reduction. Last, but not least, many of the companies active in the sector are small and medium enterprises, and many of thoseFAO Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol stresses the importance of companies are based in smaller towns where they add welcomeR&D-based plant biostimulants in more sustainable food systems.jobs for highly skilled workers, boosting local economies in areas that dont always have many other industries.Europe conference in partnership with New Ag International ES: ARE YOU FACING ANY CHALLENGES IN THE22-24 June 2021. EU, E.G., WITH REGARDS TO THE REGULATORYThe three days of the conference covered investment for ENVIRONMENT? next-gen food production, agri-food innovations (both tech-KS:Any innovation will face challenges with the regulatorynology and business models) and consumer-facing issues. Our framework because regulation always lags behind innovation.speakers ranged from the Deputy Director General of the UN The 2019 Fertilising Products Regulation was a huge step for- Food and Agriculture Organization and a policy officer in the ward because it legally recognized plant biostimulants for theEuropean Commissions Farm to Fork Strategy Unit to farmers. first time at the European level. However, there are details thatWe also had several speakers working on digital agriculture and are still being worked out concerning some component materialsrobots as well as food producers. We also made sure that the next and how to get them cleared for use in fertilising products. Forgeneration was heard by including speakers from the European example, the list of animal by-products is currently empty withYoung Farmers and Thought for Food. no visibility on when it will be populated and what the candidateThis years edition was virtual, but we hope that the first materials are. Similarly, the list of four microorganisms that arein-person edition of the conference will be held in Athens in allowed in EU fertilising products is only a small fraction of what2022. We would love to have more participants from the seed is already on the market under national rules, let alone relativesector there next year since our aim is to deliver an event that to what is in the R&D pipeline, and there is currently no processprovides value across the food chain and promotes collaboration for extending the list. and joined-up thinking. One of the ongoing challenges we have is the persistentAs well as the EBIC website, you can follow us on Twitter or confusion between potential effects of ingredients and the actualLinkedIn to receive more information, and you can sign up for function of a specific product when used according to the man- the mailing list on the conference website: https://informacon-ufacturers instructions. For some reason, although it is wellnect.com/farm-to-fork/. You can get a free taste of the conference accepted that substances like copper can be either a fertilizerby viewing the past digital roundtables archived on the site. In or a fungicide depending on the use, there is a lot of hesitancy toApril of this year (2021), EBIC hosted a debate among DG AGRI, accept this same principle for several biostimulant components,the European Young Farmers and on the biostimulants industry despite clear scientific evidence of the products biostimulanton Eco-schemes & CAP Reform: Making the European Green functions.Deal Real. In October 2020, EBICs president Luca Bonini (CEO Finally, since this regulation takes a completely differentof Hello Nature) had a one-on-one conversation with the Head approach than previous agricultural product regulations, pro- of the European Commissions Farm to Fork Strategy Unit on ducers need to understand how to complete the conformityFostering resilient, sustainable and dynamic agriculture and assessment process, and some bugs need to be worked out. food production in Europe: the roles of innovation and policy. ES: HOW ARE YOU WORKING TOGETHER WITH OTHER AGRI-FOOD SECTORS?KS:Working with the whole food chain is central to EBICs Mid-Term Strategy. We believe that we have to engage with both what we call farm (upstream) and fork (downstream) stake- Find out more about biostimulants on www.biostimulants.eu holders. To this end, we just launched our new Farm to Fork 36IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'