European research will be a key factor in ensuring that EU agricultural and food policies are innovative, according to European Commissioners and Danish Presidency representatives who met on 10 September. At the informal meeting of EU agricultural ministers in Nyborg, Denmark, which was also attended by EU Agriculture Commissioner, Franz Fischler and representatives of the candidate countries, it was recognised that agriculture has a leading role in ensuring that agricultural policies in Europe are as innovative as possible. 'I am very satisfied with the positive attitude of my European colleagues - both from the EU Member States and the candidate countries - towards the idea of promoting innovation through the common agricultural policy,' said the current chair of the Council, Danish Minister for food, agriculture and fisheries, Ms Mariann Fischer Boel. 'I would also like to stress how important it is that this strengthening of innovative capacity should proceed in close collaboration with enterprise policy, research policy and consumer policy.' She added that the European agricultural and food industry would be in an optimal position if it could convert up to date knowledge and research into new products and efficient production methods that take into account 'economy, the environment, animal welfare and the desire for safe and healthy food.' The role of the forthcoming Sixth Framework programme (FP6) was emphasised by Mr Fischler. Although EU research has already assisted in establishing more sustainable rural development through the roughly 1,000 agricultural research projects funded by the Commission over the last 10 years, FP6 will have a whole thematic priority dedicated to food safety and related issues. Speaking on the same issues, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, David Byrne, highlighted the potential for biotechnology in bringing about some of the innovative changes. 'It is important that innovation in the biotech field is not impeded by emotional reactions and apprehension based on inadequate or biased information. There can however be no question of compromising safety, public health or the environment.