Dr. Katalin Solymosi
member of board, Hungarian Young Academy
Katalin Solymosi is a plant biologist who works as assistant professor at the Department of Plant Anatomy, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary. She is teaching plant cell biology, anatomy, physiology and pharmaceutical botany at Eötvös Loránd University and Semmelweis University (Budapest), and was invited lecturer at the University of Burgundy, Dijon, France (2006-2010, 1 month each academic year). Her research is focused on the effects of biotic and abiotic stress (e.g. salt and drought stress) on plastid structure and function with emphasis on photosynthesis. She was awarded by several national scientific societies (Hungarian Biophysical Society, Hungarian Society for Microscopy, Hungarian Society for Plant Anatomy), and by the l'ORÉAL-UNESCO Women in Science national scholarship. She is founding member of the Hungarian Young Academy, and member of its first board (2019-2020). She likes to link science and arts, won different prizes at various microscopy photo contests and had several individual and collective exhibitions of microscopic images. More information can be found on her homepage: katalinsolymosi.elte.hu
Christiane Diehl (Executive Director of EASAC) opened the session by briefly introducing EASAC and its major aims along with InterAcademy Partnership (IAP). She then gave the word to Ervin Balázs (member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and organizer of this event) who shared some facts, thoughts and questions about whether one day we can reach sustainable development goals in agriculture. The first speaker, Sheryl Hendriks (University of Pretoria, South Africa) critically reviewed the most important areas and challenges for sustainable agriculture with emphasis on examples and problems in Africa. She referenced the reports of EASAC and IAP, and outlined the globalizationo of diet (increased demand for not local and not seasonal agricultural products, leading to increased processing and transportation), climate change (extreme drought periods as well as flooding potentially leading to food insecurity, starvation and migration) and food safety and food waste issues as major threats to sustainable agriculture. As solutions she proposed among others to provide more information both to policy makers and farmers on the overuse of agrochemicals, on better and more dynamic seed distribution methods, on aquaculture (to link plant cultivationn and for example fish cultures), as well as on food safety regulations and methods to prevent plant diseases in developing countries. The second speaker, Paulo Artaxo (University of São Paulo, Brazil) started his presentation with the biggest question of sustainable agriculture: how can we feed 10 billion people and in the same time keep the average global temperature increase below 2°C. He recalled that this latter value represents only an average tempreature rise, but several continental regions of tropical countries are expected to see a much higher increase (4-5°C) which would have a strong negative impact on their agricultural productivity, further increasing global economic differences. On the other hand, agriculture is responsible for 37% of global CO2 emission, which cannot be fully minimized. He emphasized that deforestation should be stopped and replaced by reforestation and afforestation. The production of sustainable bioenergy or crops with better photosynthetic performance and thusyield are challenges to be solved. Due to limited soil and water resources humans should probably also change their eating habits (for example by decreasing meat consumption in developed countries). József Popp (Szent István University, Hungary) agreed with the previous speaker in that we whould eat less especially from diary and meat products. On the other hand, he also underlined that 1.3 billion people are overweight worldwide, while 800 M people are undernourished (i.e. are not able to cover their daily necessary calorie intake) and 2 billion people are affected by hidden hunger (i.e. eating calorie rich food lacking essential ions and nutrients). In his opinion the high water, energy and food losses of agriculture may also be regarded as technological challenges, while food waste is also a personal choice. After these interesting and inspiring presentation, a very active discussion started among lecturers and the audience (researchers from different countries including Romania, India, Serbia, Hungary) on the potential use, regulation and deregulation of genetically modified organisms as well as on precision farming to achieve sustainable development goals in agriculture. Closing remarks and summary of the session were provided briefly by Robin Fears (Biosciences Programme Director, EASAC).