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We’ve been busy lately, with the Italian partners at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Piacenza, Italy, doing a fantastic job of hosting the inaugural AgriFoodPlast conference, and then going straight on to host our annual plenary. This gave most of teams from both MINAGRIS, and sister project Papillons, the opportunity to gather together, share our findings and make plans for the year ahead.

The AgriFoodPlast conference

AgriFoodPlast was a three-day international conference on micro- and nano-plastics in the agrifood chain. Speakers presented the evidence on the presence and impacts of micro- and nano-plastics in foods, packaging, agricultural environments and soils. Speakers considered the fate of plastics as they migrate through agricultural environments, their toxicological ecotoxicological effects, and some interesting new work on the interactions between soil plastics and anti-microbial resistant bacteria. There was a fantastic array of poster presentations at the conference, and more detail on the talks is available here.


Significant effort went into making the conference as accessible as possible for early career researchers, with those more senior academics presenting paying fees to attend in order to fund places for younger scientists. This helped ensure that nearly half of attendees were younger scientists, vibrantly setting out in their careers and working at the cutting edge of their disciplines. Attendees came from across the world, many from the EU but also Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, Tunisia, South Africa and the USA.

Special recognition is due to MINAGRIS researchers Filippo Vaccari, Dr Francesca Bandini, Angelica Barone, and of course Associate Professor Edoardo Puglisi, for hosting such a timely and important event. Overall, it was a great success. Given this, a second AgriFoodPlast is now in planning for 2025.


MINAGRIS annual plenary

The MINAGRIS team stayed on after the AgriFoodPlast conference to update each other on our progress and make plans for the year ahead. The MINAGRIS partners come from 21 agencies and universities across Europe, and the project, like many Horizon2020 projects, is divided into 8 separate work packages. Therefore, our plenary meeting is our one opportunity annually to meet, discuss, and align our work. This year being hosted by the Italian partners meant we were treated to great coffee and cakes to fuel us through the long days debating how best to proceed with each stage of the project.


Each of the work packages presented their progress, with the macro- and meso- plastic analyses in their final stages, the micro- and nano-plastic analyses making good progress and turning up some interesting result. The assessment of plastic use across Europe has brought up some really interesting findings, and we are now using these to inform our other work and contextualise the findings. The MINAGRIS app, SoilPlastic, has been fantastically successful, but is still open for new contributions to be made by citizen scientists.

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We took a visit to a herb farm producing essential oil crops, and another which grows tomatoes and cereals, both of whom are working with the project. Once again, the lab scientists took great pleasure in being set loose in the field, and the farmers took their chance to explain to us their experiences of plastic in farming, and how it can help and hinder them.

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Overall, it was a vibrant and useful meeting, and a fantastic opportunity to gather and deliberate on a busy and productive year ahead.



Photo credit: Honor Mackley-Ward