GENET archive


SCIENCE & BUSINESS: ’Plants for the Future’ invites Europe to reap fruits of knowledge-based bio-economy

                                  PART 1

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------


SOURCE: European Plant Science Organisation; EuropaBio, Belgium

AUTHOR: Press Release


DATE:   25.06.2007

------------------ archive: ------------------




to download more documents, speeches etc. please go to :



The EU-backed ’Plants for the Future’ Technology Platform officially released its full and final Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) at a lunch hosted by MEPs Giles Chichester and John Purvis in the European Parliament in Brussels today. The document backed by scientists, farmers and industry and other public and private stakeholders signposts a route for Europe to use plant sciences and biotechnology to enhance EU competitiveness and welfare.

Plants for the Future is a stakeholder forum on plant genomics and biotechnology that was initiated by the European Commission in 2003. It is coordinated by EPSO and EuropaBio, and has members from industry, academia and the agricultural sector. It provides a short-, medium- and long-term vision for Europe’s plant agricultural sector and sets out a consensus on the research needed to fulfill the vision.

The SRA identifies five challenges for Europe’s society to which the plant sector can contribute:

- Healthy, safe and sufficient food and feed

- Plant-based products – chemical and energy

- Sustainable agriculture, forestry and landscape

- Vibrant and competitive basic research

- Consumer choice and governance

Speaking at the event, the president of EPSO Mr Gruissem said: ”Europe must put its knowledge base in the field of plant science into practice to keep the European agricultural sector innovative and internationally competitive.” Plant genomics, the other life sciences and biotechnology are the main scientific drivers of the bio-economy which is worth an estimated €1.6 trillion a year in Europe. Together, they make up what is becoming known as the knowledge-based bio-economy.

”To improve their future competitiveness, European farmers will need more diversified and environmentally friendly crops, producing more and better quality food and non-food products. This real challenge will be tackled through state of the art innovation, especially in plant biotechnologies,” said Mr Serra Arias, former vice-president of the Committee of Agricultural Organisations (COPA).

For example, improved crops could be developed and grown to combat health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity or diabetes. New or improved feed could also be used for farm animals to reduce Europe’s dependency on foreign imports of animal feed, such as soybeans. Furthermore, plant science is a key technology for addressing the challenges of climate change by replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources of biomass for energy, including biofuels.

”The development of the knowledge-based bio-economy – involving a global industry based on renewable plant resources as an alternative to the current fossil fuel-based industry – constitutes by far the most challenging and promising opportunity in terms of economic, environmental and societal potential,” said Mr Markwart Kunz of German sugar manufacturer Südzucker AG.

We hope that the research themes described in today’s Research Agenda will feature in the EU Commission conference which opens June 26th in Brussels entitled ”Towards future challenges of agricultural research in Europe” and in any European Agricultural Research Agenda that may be developed thereafter.


For further information:

Adeline Farrelly, Communications Director, EuropaBio

Tel: +32 (0)2 739 11 74 Mobile: 32 475 93 17 24


Alina Cornea, Communications Assistant, EuropaBio

Tel: +32 (0)2 739 11 81 Mobile: +32 473 66 05 58


Useful links

Final Strategic Research Agenda and information on the launch event available on the launch event webpage:

About EPSO

EPSO, the European Plant Science Organisation, is an independent academic organisation that represents more than 140 leading research institutes and universities from 24 European countries. EPSO’s mission is to improve the impact and visibility of Plant Science in Europe.

About EuropaBio

EuropaBio is the political voice of the biotechnology industry in Europe. This association of bioindustries has some 81 corporate and 11 associate members operating worldwide, 5 Bioregions and 25 national biotechnology associations, representing 1800 small and medium sized biotech companies in Europe.

                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------


SOURCE: EurActiv, Belgium



DATE:   27.06.2007

------------------ archive: ------------------


An EU strategic research agenda for plant sciences envisions the wider use of plants that could replace chemicals and fossil fuels and guarantee enough safe food for future generations.

Brief News:

The Plants for the Future technology platform presented, on 25 June 2007, its long term vision and strategic research agenda up to 2025. The vision identifies five priority challenges for research: healthy, safe and sufficient food and feed; plant-based chemical and energy products; sustainable agriculture, forestry and landscape; vibrant and competitive basic plant research; and consumer choice and governance.

”Plants for the Future is about better integrating the plant science in the whole chain of sciences and industries to develop technologies for better use of plants,” explained Dr Markwart Kunz, one of the platform’s inovators and a board member of German sugar manufacturer Südzucker.

”The main R&D challenge for all crops is the input-output ratio. We need to try to reduce the input and try to improve the performance of crops. Thus, reduce the need for fertilisers and water supply for example, and increase the crops’ stress resistance at the same time. It is also about getting rid of some components inside of plants that are not so healthy.”

Other challenges include broadening the use of plants as well as their use for bioenergy purposes and as a source for chemicals. ”Our forefathers used the potential of plants far more than we are using it today. Today we are using plants nearly only for food, feed and construction. In the future we aim to use plants for energy and as a source of chemicals,” said Kunz added.

Asked whether it is a challenge convincing people of the benefits of, for example, genetic modification to grow plants adapted to specific purposes, Kunz said that he understands that if people are healthy, wealthy and surrounded by a huge variety of food how it is difficult to imagine a future scenario in which food is more scarce. ”If people don’t need something new today, they don’t want it now...But they might need it in the future and that is why we need to act and research now, so that people can continue to live in a healthy and wealthy condition.”

Declan O’Brien from the International Federation for Animal Health-Europe (IFAH) commented on societal acceptance of new technologies: ”It is certainly a limitation to innovation. Many companies are concerned that if they use cutting-edge ten years time, when they are ready to put products onto the market, society will actually reject the new technology, or its derived products.”

”It is putting a break on innovation in our animal-health sector, as well as on others. Companies are simply saying they won’t take the gamble and prefer investing their millions of euro in something more standard, in which they reasonably believe that they can get a licence in ten years time, instead of investing in cutting-edge technologies.”

”We can develop new crops,” said Wilhelm Gruissem, president of the European Plant Science Organisation. ”It is at the heart of the platform’s strategic research agenda and of the future knowledge based bio-economy (KBBC).”

Another member of the platform, Roberto Tuberosa, regretted that ”there is a lot of propaganda out there”, adding that stronger backing at political and media level is needed.



- To read the full interview with Dr Markwart Kunz, please click here.

- Plants for the Future Strategic Research Agenda 2025 (25 June 2007) PART II 24 6 07 final.pdf

- Plants for the Future press release: ’Plants for the Future’ invites Europe to reap fruits of knowledge-based bio-economy (25 June 2007) [FR] [DE]

- Plants for the Future



European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)

news & information

phone....... +49-531-5168746

fax......... +49-531-5168747

email....... news(*)

skype....... hartmut_meyer