As a researcher, Dr. Armin Spök of TU Graz in Austria thinks that majority of the countries will facilitate market access type of NPBTs in the future, which will depend on how each country accepts this kind of technology as the pace of policy development and changes vary from each jurisdiction. He also believes that once the technique has been widely accepted in dealing with present challenges such as climate change and food security, the public’s perception of the technology should change in dramatic ways.
Armin joined the project at a very early stage during the proposal stage with a small group of partners, which included people from other EU-funded projects. Along with Dr. Karin Metzlaff of EPSO, Armin leads the Stakeholder Agreement work package. The work package focuses on research tasks into possible facilitating and hindering factors for further innovation and product development from genome-edited root chicory.
What is it like being part of the project? According to Armin, working together with scientists, social scientists, and stakeholders at science-policy interface events is still very exciting to him. However, excitement often comes with challenges. Results of scientific research are often difficult to predict, according to Armin, and unexpected hurdles can occur at any given time that might influence the original research plans. He says that in applied research, the type of commercial applications targeted can change while, at the same time, a policy context can change, e.g. due to important political decisions, novel legislation, or court rulings, as almost all of them did occur in the CHIC project. The Covid restrictions limited mobility for partners, which forced almost all workshops, consultations, and interviews to an online format. These challenges require enormous flexibility in adapting to these unforeseen developments while making sure that the goals are achieved.
During his time being a part of the project, one of his many favourite memories of the project so far is when all the results from various branches in the project come together. He enjoys seeing all the hard work that every member of the consortium does when they share their results. More importantly, the opportunity to meet fellow CHIC colleagues and stakeholders face-to-face again after the pandemic is an added value.
As the project approaches the end, Armin will certainly miss getting to know (or to know better) several bright, dedicated, and creative mind scientists and researchers. He will miss the collaboration with his colleagues. However, what I am not going to miss is the chicory beer! The beer didn’t leave a taste in his mouth.
Armin’s background dates back a few years when he studied molecular genetics at the University of Graz and Science and Technology Policy at the University of Sussex. After a period of lab research in molecular genetics, he started to move gradually into the interdisciplinary fields of technology assessment and governance while keeping the focus on emerging applications of molecular genetics. It is still his main field of research at the Science, Technology, and Society Unit at Graz Technical University. With the exciting developments in Research & Development, his interest and focus in these areas have never wavered over the last 20 years. During that period, he also served as an advisor at the national, EU, and OECD levels.
Work Package Leader
Dr. Armin Spök, WP6 Coordinator