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20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE EC-US TASK FORCE ON BIOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCH

Final Report Summary - EC-US TF (20th anniversary of the EC-US task force on biotechnology research)

Executive summary:

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the European Community (EC) and United States of America (US) task force on biotechnology research, the working groups 2011 meeting was held on Barcelona from 2 to 5 June, as analysed at 'http://www.ec-us-biotech2010.org'. This special celebration day was an open conference which joined more than 100 people. It gave information and training trough bioscience and biotechnology concepts. The event was held at the Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona premises (PRBB) (refer to http://www.prbb.org) and joined scientists with renowned international prestige, from US and Europe. During the conference, the different sessions analysed the evolution and impact of the biotehcnology from the task force group creation. It served also to define the challenges, the new research lines and priorities in the US and Europe. The commemoration day was followed by the annual meeting of the working groups of the task force.

The Spanish Presidency of the European Council gave a good frame to enforce the visibility of such important event, and the University Pompeu Fabra (see http://www.upf.edu) and PRBB were appreciated hosts for the occasion.

Project context and objectives:

The biotechnology research for a complex world conference was celebrated in Barcelona on 2 June. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the EC-US task force on biotechnology research, European and US scientists discussed in the conference how the future of biotechnology research and its applications could benefit society. The conference aimed to encourage scientific communities both in US and in Europe to find interdisciplinary challenges for the next 20 years for which joint transatlantic collaboration would help to speed up the process of finding solutions.

This conference was part of the programme of the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council. It was organised in collaboration with the European Commission (EC), Directorate General (DG) research and the EC-US task force on biotechnology research.

The EC-US task force was working on how to anticipate to the future needs of science. This was done through the exchange of ideas between managers of biotechnology research in the US and developing some common activities and workshops in both communities.

In the D4.3 'Conference book' a summary of the presentations could be found, as well as a compilation of the abstracts of the projects on which the speakers were working in. It also included the main conclusions and highlights of the conference.

The conference was divided into sections, i.e. introduction, morning and afternoon sessions, and the final round table and conclusions. The sessions were developed as follows.

Introduction

Introduction speech: Ms Teresa Garcia-Mila, Vice-rector for Science Policy, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the interventions of Ms Montserrat Torné, Director General for International Cooperation and Institutional Relations, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Mr Greggory D. Crouch, Consul General of the US in Barcelona, Ms Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation and Rudolf W. Strohmeier, Deputy Director General Scientific Advances (DG Research), EC.

After the opening speeches, Ms Judith St. John and Ms Maive Rute, US and EC co-chairs respectively of the EC-US task force, conducted two presentations on 'The impacts of the EC-US task force on biotechnology research' after 20 years of work.

Morning

1. 'A systems approach identifies regulatory networks affecting plant growth and development', Mr Kenneth D. Birnbaum, New York University, US
2. 'Twenty years of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) driven environmental biotechnology: Then and now', Mr Víctor de Lorenzo, Campus de Cantoblanco, Madrid
3. 'Marine biotechnology in the 21st century', Mr René Wijffels, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Holland
4. 'From plant biotechnology to bio-based products', Ms Dianna Bowles, University of York, United Kingdom (UK)

Afternoon

1. 'Feeding the world with healthful food and combating obesity', Mr Mike Grusak Baylor, College of Medicine and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), US
2. 'Nudging consumers into more sustainable lifestyles: Some lessons', Ms Lucia A. Reisch, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
3. 'Infections emerging from the animal reservoir: A never-ending threat for human health', Ms Ilaria Capua, World Organisation for animal Health (OIE) and National Reference Laboratory for Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza, Italy
4. 'Finding alternatives to fossil fuels: Thinking outside of the lunch box for solutions from plants', Mr Stephen Long, University of Illinois, EUA

Round table and closing session

Vladimir de Semir director of the Science Communication Observatory of Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, chaired a round table with participants of both morning and afternoon sessions.

Ms Judith St. John and Mr Rudolf W. Strohmeier thanked both the speakers and participants, remarking that the conference had been very successful in its objectives, i.e. firstly presenting the past achievements of the task force and the future of biotechnology and, secondly, identifying and exemplifying fields of work and possible transatlantic cooperation.

Project results:

The working group EC-US task force on biotechnology research, took the chance of such an exceptional event to internationally promote the good level of technology and science in the biotechnological frame. The event joined an important and qualified group of experts and reached the objective of being a discussion forum about the more relevant issues of biotechnology. The discussion served to determine the frame to define the current developments and future trends for the next decades.

In this way, is important to point what was stressed in the closing remarks of the conference the first day.

Ms Judith St. John thanked both the speakers and participants, remarked that there was a need for a continuation of the task force and also noted that there were people in the audience who were not scientists and, thus, added a broader perspective.

Rudolf W. Strohmeier, as a representative of the EC, thanked everyone for their participation in the conference which had two main objectives, namely presenting the past achievements of the task force and the future of biotechnology and, secondly, identifying and exemplifying fields of work and possible transatlantic cooperation. In his opinion both objectives had been achieved.

Mr Strohmeier also highlighted that this conference could help to address global challenges such as hunger, environmental degradation and poor water quality. As pointed by the speakers, this would need cross-disciplinary research and cooperation by different fields of science.

He also remarked that the discussions and outcomes in the conference were an important contribution to the EU strategy. Although the conference demonstrated the amount of work done in the EC-US task force, it also showed how much more needed to be done and the need to reinforce transatlantic cooperation.

Finally, he said that he hoped that the discussions and excellent suggestions made at the conference could be useful for building concrete activities in the near future and thanked the speakers and participants.

Closing the meeting, Ferran Sanz, on behalf of the Rector of the University Pompeu Fabra, thanked the Commission for having chosen the Universitat Pompeu Fabra for hosting this important event. He also thanked all the people involved in the organisation of the Conference. And, finally, he congratulated the audience for the relevance and quality of all the speeches, but also remarked that a common problem in all fields was detected, namely the communication and information sharing between scientists through the world and trough disciplines.

Potential impact:

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List of websites:

'http://www.ec-us-biotech2010.org/en/'

Contact person

Martina Gasull, mgasull2@imim.es martina.gasull@upf.edu