Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Knowledge Based Bio-Economy towards 2020 Conference

Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn

14/09/2010. Brussels. Knowledge Based Bio-Economy towards 2020 Conference.

The aim of this conference was twofold: to take stock of the progress made since 2005 (the first KBBE conference) and the forward look towards 2020, contributing to the new vision and action plan for a Sustainable Bright Green Bio-Economy.

Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (Ireland) said: "The bio-economy has the potential to address many of the things Europeans care most about: food security, reducing the environmental impact of agriculture and industry, providing healthy food at affordable cost, supporting coastal and rural development, reducing and recycling of bio-waste.

However, research policy in this area is fragmented between Member States and some industrial technologies are subject to increasing competition from overseas. The European Commission wants to increase coherence at both European and national level, with a stronger engagement of end-users, so that new ideas can be brought more rapidly to the European marketplace and so that societal challenges are better addressed." See: application/pdf iconMáire Geoghegan-Quinn_Bio-economy for a better life (202.87 Kb)

Dr. Patrick Cunningham
(Chief Scientific Advisor to the Irish Government, Ireland)
Dr. Patrick Cunningham  (Chief Scientific Advisor to the Irish Government, Ireland) presented the major Grand Challenges for the KBBE:
See: Power Point Presentation application/pdf iconPatrick Cunningham_Setting the Perspective (1.16 MB) 
•The impact of the social and demographic development on agriculture
•The impact of changes in lifestyles and eating habits
•The threat of climate change
•The growing pressure on water
•The limited resources of fossil fuel
•The need for sustainable development
•The demand for safer and healthier foods
•The prevention of epizootic and zoonotic diseases

–Need to balance economic, social and environmental issues in land and water use
–From a sectoral approach towards a more integrated approach of the KBBE
–Need for a public debate on the public acceptability of modern technologies (e.g. GM, animal cloning, synthetic biology, etc.)
–Obtaining a worldwide food security, as well as security for feedstocks for a sustainable bio-based industry
–An intelligent and new discussion on Food-versus Non-Food-Crops.
–Handling the feedstock competition on biomass for energy versus industial material use.
–Deployment of existing technologies in agriculture, and increasing research in agronomic sciences and breeding technologies (incl. green biotechnology).


–Research in health, food and diet-related diseases is both complex and fragmented
–Authorisationfor novel food products: long procedures and costly (in particular for SMEs)
–Need for new communication tools to increase trust in the food chain
–Optimisingand increasing technology transfer towards SMEs
Bio-based Products
–Development of new innovative bio-based products is costly and R&D intensive
Parralel session 2 on innovative biobased products

Chairs: Wim Soetaert-UGent &  Sirpa Pietikainen-MEP (ENVI) 
Panel members: 
Gunter Festel-Festel 
Capital ; 
Iris Anderson, Dept. of 
Energy and Climate  Change, 
Luis Mora-PharmaMar
Christophe RuppDahlem  
Steven Devlin-Biopreferred 
Program, USDA

–US, Brazil, China and others are supporting large scale demonstrators in which many European companies already participate. What about Europe?
–In contrast to biofuels, there is currently no European policy framework to support bio-based materials
–Lack of widely accepted schemes to assess and confirm sustainability is a significant barrier to consumer and government confidence.

After the opening session of the conference, parallel sessions were organised around three topics: feedstocks for the bio-economy, innovative biobased products and innovative food production. Policy makers, academics, industry and civil society representatives jointly assessed the present achievements and the future needs of the bio-economy.

Parralel session 1. Feedstocks for the bio-economyProf. Ivan Ingelbrecht of the Gent University (Belgium), Department of Plant Biotechnology and Genetics, gave a presentation on
  • Feedstocks for the KBBE: role for ‘Developing Countries’ in EU strategy? 
  • the The International Industrial Biotechnology Network IIBN
- ‘Developing countries’: wide variety in level of development, resource base, etc among less industrialized nations
* emerging economies: BRICs
* next emerging economies: Mexico, Nigeria, …
* others are following – matter of time
- Renewable plant biomass resources mainly in the Southern hemisphere (cf fossil fuels): more land area, higher biodiversity, more favorable climatic conditions for agricultural biomass production

- BRICs take on increasingly leading role in agricultural R&D globally set on path towards innovation:
Brazil is quickly surpassing other countries in food production and exports (The Global Farm. Nature. 466, July 2010)
China – a cleantech giant: China’s investments in clean energy outstripped those of the USA in 2009 and is set to overtake Europe’s in 2010 (Insight Capricorn. Sept 2010)
China – Learning to innovate: China pieces together a drug discovery system (Biotech in China. Jan 2010)
Over past decade more rapid economic growth of emerging economies

See Power point application/pdf iconIvan Ingelbrecht - presentation parallel session 1: Feedstocks for the KBBE (317.7 Kb)

In the final part of the conference conclusions were drawn and policy recommendations were formulated.
Madam Maive Rute, the Director of Biotechnologies,
Agriculture and food Directorate,
Research DG, European Commission.

Madam Maive Rute (Director of Biotechnologies, Agriculture and food Directorate, Research DG, European Commission) talked about the EU Bio-Economy towards 2020 policies, research and innovation. She said that the bio-economy is the sustainable production and conversion of biomass, for a range of food, health and industrial products and energy. Renewable biomass encompasses any biological material to be used as raw material. 

The Commission is investing about €2 billion in European Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology research through the 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7). The current call for proposals to help build the Knowledge Based BioEconomy is worth €240 million.

The knowledge based bio-economy generates sustainable growth by using renewable biological resources from land and aquatic environment as inputs to sectors such as the food and feed industries, chemicals, detergents, paper and pulp, textiles, bio-fuels and biogas. Progress in the biosciences helps “green” industry,
reduce waste, and enhance consumer protection and well-being. It encompasses established economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, food and chemicals and energy which, in many cases, benefit from a whole chain approach to production and processing.

Related: Information Day and Brokerage Event on Call FP7-KBBE-5-2011
13/09/2010. Brussels. The European Commission organised a European Info day for the upcoming call for proposals under the 'Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and Biotechnology' theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

The afternoon programme consisted of a Brokerage Event for the 2011 call, organised by the BIO CIRCLE project. During this Brokerage Event, researchers from Europe and Third Countries had the opportunity to discuss opportunities to collaborate on proposals for topics in the 2011 KBBE Work Programme.

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