Fascination of Plants Day was a blast! Many students, senior researchers, and industry members joined us on the spot, while others participated online.
One and half hour debate brought many exciting insights on how to mitigate climate change with the help of plants and plant-based products. Science journalist Peter Sylwan led the discussion flow among panellists, trying to find the balance between the ecosystem’s perspectives of Martin Sykes, plant breeding and physiology points of view of Eva Johansson and Marie Nyman, and the engineering/product-oriented vision of Eva Tornberg. Not an easy task to do!
Looking into the future, there was a clear notion of urgency in the panel. As Martin Sykes pointed out, climate change is happening as we speak, so how should we react? Isn’t it too late already? The way we use and store energy in the system needs to be changed, and going more plant-based seems to be one of the most logical ways. What can be done in terms of carbon storage? As climate change is not a stable event, plant breeders must simultaneously focus on multiple traits. But how will that be achieved? Will genome editing become an accepted tool within the European Union to accelerate the breeding pace and trait combination possibilities? We may increase the protein content in the plants, domesticate new species or revive traits which have been forgotten as Marie Nyman lifted, but what is the actual demand of the public? A key point will be the communication between society, scientists and industry. As Eva Tornberg pointed out, research must be provocative to raise reactions. On the other hand, Eva Johansson commented that scientists should be good at science and cannot possibly focus on all the parts necessary to build a more climate-resilient society. Therefore, all the stakeholders should step into the game and join their forces to develop good tasting, nutritious and price-worthy products as one piece of the puzzle in how plants can come to the rescue!
For example, all the attendants had a chance to taste the DUG potato-based drink selection, representing one of the sustainable ways of shifting to a more plant-based diet.
Marie Nyman, retiring Chief Secretary of the Swedish gene technology advisory board.
Eva Johansson, director of SLU Grogrund
Martin Sykes, professor emeritus in plant ecology
Eva Tornberg, professor emeritus and founder of Veg of Lund
Peter Sylwan, science journalist chairing the discussion