The scope and role of the ‘new SCAR’
Over the past three decades, the agenda for agricultural research has changed dramatically. Agricultural practices and production processes must now be set in a much wider context – that of achieving real sustainability in a wide sense and responding directly to the concerns of the consumers of Europe. Agriculture must cope with new pressures, for example: in relation to environmental demands; changes in rural policy and rural communities; the rise of non-food agricultural production, landscape management, biodiversity and conservation issues; and responses to the demands of reform of the CAP and enlargement. There are also the impacts on European agriculture of obligations as a result of international agreements, such as WTO activities, the Kyoto protocol and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Such developments make it unlikely that any single European country will have the resources or capacity to adequately address all the research necessary to support policy on these and other trans-boundary issues that are emerging.
In the light of these demands and challenges, the revived SCAR will work to this wider and up-to-date definition of the term ‘agricultural research’. SCAR will look beyond the narrow aspects of research relating to production and encompass the so called ‘fork-to-farm’ concept, emphasising research for sustainable agriculture, and including biodiversity and rural development. Adopting a holistic approach SCAR will address major sectors within a concept of a ‘knowledge based bio-economy’ for example; animal health and welfare, consumer issues relating to the quality, safety and security of food production and supply; issues of consumer behaviour towards food, nutrition, retailing and markets, as these impact on agro-food research, and issues related to developments in non-traditional and non-food areas of agriculture activity including forestry.
Adopting this broader interpretation of the term ‘agricultural research’ will, in a ‘new SCAR context’, enable the Committee to take into account all relevant international and European regulations and important trends, and also the major conclusions of the scientific committees of the Commission that impinge on the policy and research agendas that may be relevant to agricultural research within a multidisciplinary concept. Arising from this approach, SCAR will therefore assist the Commission, other institutions and the Member States by providing an assessment of the relevance of these topics including socio-economic impact, advise on research priority setting at the European level and on related actions that would provide better coordination of support for evidence based policy making into the future.
Conclusions of 1st ‘new SCAR’ meeting
At its first meeting
63.4kb] on 2-3 February 2005, the ‘new’ SCAR discussed the activities it needs to carry out to support the Commission and Member States for better coordination of agricultural research across the European Research Area. This will involve:
- Strategic discussions on the agricultural research agenda in Europe in the long term (FP7 and beyond)
- Enhanced cooperation between MS (joint research programmes, common infrastructures)
- Research agenda in scientific support to the CAP
- Exchange of information with complementary mechanisms under EU Framework Programmes
Against this background, the SCAR agreed on priority initiatives to be addressed in the future:
- Foresight process
- Common Research Agenda
- Mapping capacities