EU Science Hub

Agricultural technological innovation

The need for technological development in agriculture to achieve "sustainable intensification" is on the agenda of governments and international bodies. Innovation is also at the centre of the EU2020 strategy. New technologies and their adoption by EU farmers are key drivers in maintaining European agriculture competitive in a global world. While the potential of technological development for sustainability of agriculture is acknowledged, there is a global trend towards increased regulation of new technologies in agriculture, particularly bio-technologies that result in genetically modified organisms (GMOs), be it for concerns about their safety or ethical and societal concerns. By its own nature, the conception and development of policies governing technology needs strong scientific support.

The JRC is involved in anticipation and technological foresight on new technologies relevant for agriculture, notably in the area of crop improvement. Socio-economic evaluation of the crops derived from biotechnology for the EU farming and related economic sectors  is another area of JRC research. The JRC also operates together with Member States two Bureaux, the European GMO Socio-Economics Bureau (ESEB) to define indicators and methodologies to produce socio-economic assessments and the European Coexistence Bureau (ECoB), producing guidelines for EU farming on technical segregation measures to achieve coexistence between GM, conventional and organic agriculture.

Emerging technologies in agriculture

The use of new technologies is occurring at fast pace, however with different level of advancement in the world, in particular for innovative breeding (new plant breeding techniques), but also other new technologies such as nanotechnologies.

Socio-economic assessment of GM crops for EU agriculture

The cultivation of GM crops can have a number of socio-economic impacts which are of increasing importance for policy-making. In 2012, the JRC set up the European GMO Socio-Economics Bureau (ESEB), a technical working group composed of Member States and Commission experts, to assist in identifying these impacts.

Codes of practice for EU farmers to achieve coexistence of GM and non-GM supply chains

For those GM crops authorised for cultivation, EU coexistence policies include technical measures designed to minimise the economic impacts of admixture of genetically modified (GM) and non-GM agricultural supplies, without compromising the economic efficiency of farmers. The JRC, through the operation of the European Coexistence Bureau (ECoB), develops standards of best agricultural practices for coexistence to assist member states in developing national rules.