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Checkbiotech: Plants for the Future' programme sets a European agenda for the goals and benefits of plant genomics and biotechnology
Posted by: DR. RAUPP ; madora (IP Logged)
Date: July 06, 2005 06:48AM ; ;

A wide group of stakeholders jointly publish today the strategic research
agenda ?Plants for the future? on how Europe can improve the safe
exploitation of the genetic diversity in plants using plant genomics and
biotechnology. Input has been collected from research institutions,
industry, farmers, politics, financial world, regulatory authorities, as
well as consumer and environmental organizations, July 2005.

"'Plants for the Future' is an impressive demonstration of how working
together can build competitiveness. This joint effort of all those involved
in the agricultural production chain to identify and take into account
scientific and technological potential, market drivers and consumer demand
can only be positive for the future of the agricultural sector," says Janez
Poto?nik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research. "Plant genomics and
biotechnology, as outlined in the strategic research agenda published today,
will play a major role in ensuring sustainability of our economy through
renewable biological resources."

The agenda defines the strategic research priorities for the two coming
decades. The priorities are to produce healthy and safe food and feed, and
to increase competitiveness of the agricultural value chain while
contributing to sustainability.

?If we talk about the European agricultural value chain we talk about more
than 600 billion Euros of turn-over each year, 8% of the European workforce,
and 17 million farms. Research and application of plant genomics and
biotechnology will foster this leading industrial sector,? says Hans Kast,
Chairman of EuropaBio ? the European association for bioindustries. ?The
consensus of all stakeholders on the research agenda is a great achievement
and clearly shows that Europe wants to earn the benefits of plant
biotechnology,? he adds.

?With ?Plants for the future? we address four major challenges:
Producing healthy, safe and sufficient food and feed while securing
sustainable agriculture and landscape, developing green products such as
biomaterials and biofuels and last but not least securing Europe´s
competitiveness, consumers? choice and good governance,? says Marc Zabeau,
President EPSO ? the European Plant Science Organisation. ?It will be
achieved by private and public funding at regional, national and European
level. I am pleased about the proposal of the European Commission, which has
proposed ?2,5 billion for food, agriculture and biotechnology, in the next
EU research programme. We will consult the EU Member States to discuss our
proposal and ensure national support for it.?

As the joint research platform ?Plants for the future? will focus on EU
aspects in agriculture, raw materials, feed and food, such as oil plants
containing more long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids with health benefits
for humans, or crops with higher levels of vitamins.

The platform will also be extended to animal feed crops that are important
to Europe, e.g. wheat, grain, legumes, and rapeseed. A special focus on
biodiversity will help to expand the variety of crops cultivated in the EU.

In addition, crops will be further developed in terms of reducing the need
of agricultural inputs and better protection against pests and diseases.

Responding to climate change, and the growing awareness towards
environmental responsibility, plant science will be a key technology in
delivering the bio-based economy where energy, raw materials and renewables
are increasingly produced by the agricultural sector.

?This research agenda in plant science will enable European farmers to
improve both plant productivity and quality while preserving our
environment. This is the key to answer customers needs and to compete in a
global market while at the same time sustaining our rural communities and
preserving the European countryside,? says Pierre Pagesse, Presidium Member
of COGECA, General Confederation of Agricultural Co-operatives in the
European Union. ?I believe ?Plants for the future? will also bring new tools
to enhance biodiversity and use it in plant breeding programs?, he adds.

Speaking at the launch event, Giles Chichester MEP who chairs the European
Parliament?s Industry Committee said "I have pleasure in launching the Plant
Technology Platform and supporting the project by chairing a mirror group in
the Parliament. This is a vital area of science both because of the benefits
it can produce and as a significant source of economic growth. The way the
interested parties have come together to establish this platform is a most
impressive exercise in co-operation and sectoral planning for the future."


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