Biotechnology and agriculture in Czech Republic were the topics of a workshop at November 22nd. The aim of the meeting that was organised by the Technology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Czech Liaison Office for the R&D in Brussels and Czech Biotechnology Association Biotrin at the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU was the exposure of general level and public atmosphere in these modern technologies and the potential Czech contribution to EU targets.
MEP Hynek Fajmon and President of the European Federation of Biotechnology Marc Van Montagu opening the firs part sketched the European frame of the field. It was then filled in by an overview summarising the Czech situation with references to the Eurobarometer 2005 survey. It documented quite positive attitude of Czech public to biotechnology when confronted with European average. Attention was paid to the issue of genetically modified (GM) crops that was discoursed from agricultural and legal points of view. It was stressed that Czech farmers welcome the use of modified corn instead of chemical pest control. No problems occurred after three years of planting Bt corn and careful four-years´ field research detected no change in insect community when compared with standard corn. Field trials with other GM crops, e.g., potatoes, virus resistant plum tree and flax are in progress. Experts are studying the feasibility of expending their spectrum to, e.g., corn resistant to root worm (Diabrotica), spruce resistant to bark-beetle, herbicide tolerant winter rape and sugar beet. Facing the expansion of new pests the use of GM crops appears to be the best choice in sustainable agriculture. Sine GM crops provide benefit when planted rather than by import and processing farmers and scientists hope EU will relax its regulation policy.
The afternoon part brought the overview of Czech biotech research. Information about participation in the FPs was confronted with general opportunities of EU funding described by Alfredo Aguilar representing DG Research of European Commission. Contributions that followed outlined the results of main institutions studying and controlling food and environment safety. The research programme in new fields such as crop improvement and non-food agriculture were also introduced.
The synthetic picture of the situation in the Czech Republic qualified this country as a convenient partner for cooperation in science and R&D in biotechnology with particular application in agriculture.