Climate change is one of the most serious threats humanity has ever faced. Twenty leaders in plant biotechnology will gather at the VIB conference ‘Plant Science for Climate Emergency’ to review the research on adapting plants to climate change and on using plants to mitigate the accumulation of greenhouse gasses.
Developing crops that are more resilient to rapidly changing and harsher environments will be crucial for tomorrow’s food production. Green biotechnology offers solutions to maintain high food productivity while preserving the earth’s valuable ecosystems. In addition, plants may also play an important role in mitigating the rising levels of greenhouse gases.
Prof. Dirk Inzé (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology), one of the organizers of the conference, emphasizes the importance of biotechnology advances: “By its nature, agriculture can never be 100% free of emissions. However, if we can develop new and innovative ways to make it more sustainable, we can reduce its harm significantly, in line with the ambitions of the Green Deal.”
The ‘Plant Science for Climate Emergency’ conference will run from June 7th to 8th. It is followed by the IPBO Satellite ‘Applied Climate Research in Africa’ on June 9th. Together, the two events have attracted attendees from around 50 countries, including early career researchers, top academics, and industry representatives.
At the conference hosted by VIB – a global leader in plant biotechnology – twenty top innovators in the field will present the latest developments. There will be sessions focused on drought tolerance, tolerance to high temperatures, salt and flooding tolerance, the effects of climate change on defense systems against insects and pathogens, carbon capturing plants, crop engineering and improvement, nitrogen use efficiency, and much more.
Prof. Inzé explains the goals of the conference: “The idea is to stimulate awareness and discussion, to instill in young people the belief that this is an area that can truly, broadly, and impactfully benefit society. We named it ‘Plant Science for Climate Emergency’ because that’s what we are facing: an emergency. It’s too late to go back. The climate is changing, and we will all be affected, particularly the next generations. It’s time to act.”
The keynote lecture on day 1 will be given by Mark Lynas, Visiting Fellow at the Cornell Alliance for Science (Cornell University, US), and author of several books on the environment, including High Tide, Six Degrees, The God Species, Nuclear 2.0, and Seeds of Science. His Six Degrees won the 2007 Royal Society science book prize and his most recent book, Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency is an updated version that includes the latest research. He will end the conference by sketching scenarios for food production and the world at different temperature projections.