COST Connect on Food and Agriculture - what are our future prospects?


COST Actions met in Madrid to discuss current challenges and explore new solutions to connect policy makers with experts in the field of food and agriculture.

Feeding the world remains a challenge in the current recessionary context, but feeding the population in a sustainable way is even more challenging.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the agriculture sector already uses 40% of the world’s habitable land, 70% of its fresh water, and emits 30% of the total gases.

How our European agriculture and rural communities cope with these challenges? What are the perspectives in times of drought and political uncertainties? What are the technologies to measures the impact of climate changes on our soils and health? What are the pathogens in livestock and new sources of food for the coming years? How to engage with policy makers to set new standards and regulations related to food and health safety?

COST Connect on Food and Agriculture

Numerous questions are raised here and in an attempt to explore potential solutions, on 20 and 21st October 2022, COST hosted a COST Connect on Food and Agriculture in Madrid, Spain.

Group photo of 60+ people posing for a group photo in a meeting room

This COST Connect brought together researchers active in the field with representatives of the European Commission, the EC’s Joint Research Centre, and the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). The aim was to bring experts in different disciplines to identify the challenges, meet policy makers and explore future interdisciplinary collaborations.

Jorge Molina Villanueva, Policy Officer, from DG RTD of European Commission stressed the importance to create spaces where researchers can meet and exchange. “Opportunities arise when different field of research meet and connect”. Mr Molina emphasised on the importance to have a resilient food system for the future by bringing science to the policy makers attention to set future standards.

Mr Stephan Bronzwaer, Research Coordinator, from the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) has had the opportunity to highlight the importance and the benefits of EU Agencies in research programming. He recalled how science is protecting consumers from field to fork, through the Farm to Fork Strategy. In addition, the focus was on how COST Actions could get involved considering the new challenges and threats in the sector, such as microplastics considered as an environment concern, but also an emerging risk for food safety.

“Complementary approach is key among researchers, that is why the COST Connect format is a good opportunity to lift the challenges and create new synergies”

Stephan Bronzwaer, European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA)

Ms Beatriz Guimarey Fernández, from the Agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) focused her presentation on the need to speed up innovation in agriculture and forestry through interactive approach by bridging research and practice. Ms Guimarey Fernández, presented a list of ongoing projects, thematic networks and operational groups that could be relevant to some of the Action participants in order to develop good practices in the field.

Ms Guimarey Fernández says about the event that “Learning from the others and other perspective is relevant in order to think outside the box and develop transversal approaches.”

The Joint Research Centre, represented by Policy Officer Mr Nikola Radovanovic, presented the Smart Specialisation Framework for the EU Enlargement and Neighbourhood Region, with a focus on the Western Balkans. This provided an overview of the potential collaborations that could be created in the agri-food sector.

During the event, COST Action participants had the opportunity to present their research network,  exchange views and make new connections. Participants were then invited into various interactive workshops to discuss the biggest issues they are confronted with and look for solutions by seeding ideas and obtaining group input from others.

Additional information

What is COST Connect

Additional Activities for COST Actions