Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Exploiting opportunities and addressing the challenges of biotech in the Agri-Food sector

Advances in biotechnologies promise to be one of the major leaps in human scientific understanding in the twenty-first century, offering new products and processes that may help to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The Agri-Food sector is one area where biotechnologies could deliver on this promise. Innovative EU-funded research is aimed at ensuring that Europe can fully benefit from the opportunities created through Agri-Food biotech solutions, whilst maintaining high levels of environmental, food and consumer safety.
Exploiting opportunities and addressing the challenges of biotech in the Agri-Food sector
Biotech solutions for the Agri-Food sector encompass a range of modern techniques and tools, which can help with understanding the fundamental mechanisms of the basis of life and be used to provide substantial benefits to farmers, consumers and the environment. To this end, there is a need for an in-depth knowledge of the impacts of new technologies, addressing the needs and concerns of different stakeholders and society at large. This also requires transparent and accurate communication on scientific and technological advances and the broader engagement of different players to ensure that both opportunities and challenges are not overlooked.

Responsible policymaking

This is why the European Commission has been highly committed to stimulating an informed and open political debate amongst all interested stakeholders on how the EU can both benefit from modern biotechnologies and innovation in the Agri-Food sector, whilst maintaining high safety standards.

One of the ways the Commission facilitates this discussion is by ensuring impartial and thorough scientific advice to guarantee informed policymaking. In February 2017, the High Level Group of the Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) published an Explanatory Note on new techniques in the Agri-Food sector, covering applications in animals, plants, and microorganisms for food and feed production. The Note also outlined the agricultural application of new techniques in the fields of synthetic biology and gene drive.

Innovative research through EU-funded programmes

Alongside informed policymaking, the EU has also supported, through the FP7 and Horizon 2020 framework programmes, ambitious research projects that are at the forefront of exciting biotech developments and new discoveries within the Agri-Food sector.

This CORDIS Results Pack is focusing on seven such projects, with highlights including the ECOSEED project that has explored the impact of tough environmental conditions on crop genes, to the FECUND project which has employed genetic research to the stall an alarming trend of infertility in cows.

Moreover, whilst most the featured projects focus on tangible scientific advances, the SYN-ENERGENE project has been busy engaging with citizens on the challenges and opportunities of synthetic biology, a growing field that promises to be pivotal for the future development of Agri-Food biotechnologies.
Fostering a dialogue on synthetic biology
New areas of science, such as synthetic biology often cause public concern and require responsible governance. SYNENERGENE has engaged citizens across Europe in thinking about the...
Finding fertile ground for dairy cows
Created to examine decreasing fertility in dairy cattle, the EU-funded FECUND project has collected detailed genetic data that is already helping to reverse the decline.
Strengthening legume crops
The EU-funded ABSTRESS project has used genetic engineering to create new legume varieties that can better withstand drought and disease.
On track for enhanced photosynthesis in certain crops
Not all plants are made equal. Whilst they all use an enzyme called Rubisco to capture carbon, some can only count on the inefficient C3 photosynthesis pathway to do so, resulting...
The impact of environmental stress on plant seed quality
The fact that environmental stress can affect animals and humans before their birth, and how they do so, is relatively well-established. Yet somehow, the same cannot be said of...
Innovative pollination research promises an agri-boost
Plants need animals and insects for pollination and attract them through a range of chemicals that create colour, scent and nectar in thier flowers. Recent Marie Skłodowska-Curie...
Creating a better hemp plant
EU researchers are developing new varieties of hemp capable of feeding an innovative hemp bio-refinery and serving as a sustainable alternative to cotton.

Related Results Packs

FOOD 2030: Innovative EU research ensures food system is future-ready
Europe’s food production and consumption will play a pivotal role in ensuring food and nutrition security (FNS) in the face of the combined impacts of climate change, resource...
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