Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology

22/12/2006 - Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology Workprogram



Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology - Open Calls


Building a European Knowledge Based Bio-Economy by bringing together science, industry and other stakeholders, to exploit new and emerging research opportunities that address social and economic challenges: the growing demand for safer, healthier and higher quality food, taking into account animal welfare and rural contexts; the sustainable production and use of renewable bio-resources; the increasing risk of epizootic and zoonotic diseases and food related disorders; threats to the sustainability and security of agricultural and fisheries production resulting in particular from climate change.



This theme will strengthen the knowledge base, deliver the innovations and provide policy support for building and developing a European Knowledge Based Bio-Economy (KBBE).

Research will focus on the sustainable management, production and use of biological resources, in particular through life sciences and biotechnology and the convergence with other technologies, to provide new, eco-efficient and competitive products from European agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, food, health, forest based and related industries.

Research will make important contributions to the implementation and formulation of EU policies and regulations and specifically address or support: the Common Agricultural Policy; agriculture and trade issues; food safety regulations; Community Animal Health Policy, disease control and welfare standards; environment and biodiversity; EU Forestry Strategy; and the Common Fisheries Policy aiming to provide sustainable development of fishing and aquaculture. Research will also seek to develop new and existing indicators supporting analysis, development and monitoring of these policies.

Agro-food industries, of which 90% are SMEs, will particularly benefit from many research activities, including targeted dissemination and technology transfer activities, in particular as regards the integration and uptake of advanced eco-efficient technologies, methodologies and processes and the development of standards. High-tech start-ups from the bio-, nano and ICT are expected to provide important contributions to the areas of plant breeding, improved crops and plant protection, advanced detection and monitoring technologies for ensuring food safety and quality, and new industrial bioprocesses.

Several European Technology Platforms, covering the areas of plant genomics and biotechnology, forestry and forest based industries, global animal health, farm animal breeding, food, aquaculture and industrial biotechnology, will contribute in setting common research priorities for this theme, in identifying possible future large scale initiatives such as demonstration projects for the production of bulk chemicals from biomass (plant cell wall, biofuels, biopolymers) and help ensure broad participation and integration of all stakeholders. Actions to enhance the co-ordination of national research programmes will be pursued wherever appropriate, in close co-ordination with ERA-Net projects, Technology Platforms and other relevant actors, such as the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) or any future European maritime research co-ordination structure.


Activities Include:


Sustainable production and management of biological resources from land, forest,

and aquatic environments:


         Enabling research on the key long term drivers of sustainable production and management of biological resources (micro-organisms, plants and animals) including the exploitation of biodiversity and of novel bioactive molecules within these biological systems. Research will include 'omics' technologies, such as genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and converging technologies, and their integration within systems biology approaches, as well as the development of basic tools and technologies, including bioinformatics and relevant databases, and methodologies for identifying varieties within species groups.


         Increased sustainability and competitiveness, while decreasing environmental impacts, in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture through the development of new technologies, equipment, monitoring systems, novel plants and production systems, the improvement of the scientific and technical basis of fisheries management, and a better understanding of the interaction between different systems (agriculture and forestry; fisheries and aquaculture) across a whole ecosystem approach. For land based biological resources, special emphasis will be placed on low input and organic production systems, improved management of resources and novel feeds, and novel plants (crops and trees) with improved composition, resistance to stress, nutrient use efficiency, and architecture. This will be supported through research into biosafety, co-existence and traceability of novel plants systems and products. Plant health will be improved through better understanding of ecology, biology of pests, diseases and other threats and support to controlling disease outbreaks and enhancing sustainable pest management tools and techniques. For biological resources from aquatic environments, emphasis will be placed on essential biological functions, safe and environmentally friendly production systems and feeds of cultured species and on fisheries biology, dynamics of mixed fisheries, interactions between fisheries activities and the marine ecosystem and on fleet-based, regional and multi-annual management systems.


         Optimised animal production and welfare, across agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, inter alia through the exploitation of genetic knowledge, new breeding methods, improved understanding of animal physiology and behaviour and the better understanding and control of infectious animal diseases, including zoonoses. The latter will also be addressed by developing tools for monitoring, prevention and control, by underpinning and applied research on vaccines and diagnostics, studying the ecology of known or emerging infectious agents and other threats, including malicious acts, and impacts of different farming systems and climate. New knowledge for the safe disposal of animal waste and improved management of by-products will also be developed.


         Providing the tools needed by policy makers and other actors to support the implementation of relevant strategies, policies and legislation and in particular to support the building of the European Knowledge Based Bio-Economy (KBBE) and the needs of rural and coastal development. The Common Fisheries Policy will be supported through the development of adaptive approaches supportive to a whole ecosystem approach for the harvesting of marine resources. Research for all policies will include socio-economic studies, comparative investigations of different farming systems, cost-effective fisheries management systems, the rearing of non-food animals, interactions with forestry and studies to improve rural and coastal livelihoods.


Fork to farm: Food, health and well being:


         Understanding consumer behaviour as a major factor in the competitiveness of the food industry and the impact of food on the health, and well-being of the European citizen. The focus will be on consumer perception and attitudes towards food, understanding societal trends, and identifying determinants of food choice and consumer access to food.


         Understanding dietary factors and habits as a major controllable factor in the development and reduction of occurrence of diet-related diseases and disorders. This will involve the development and application of nutrigenomics and systems biology, and the study of the interactions between nutrition, physiological and psychological functions. It could lead to reformulation of processed foods, and development of novel foods, dietetic foods and foods with nutritional and health claims. The investigation of traditional, local, and seasonal foods and diets will also be important to highlight the impact of certain foods and diets on health, and to develop integrated food guidance.


         Optimising innovation in the European food industry through the integration of advanced technologies into traditional food production, key process technologies to enhance the functionality of food, the development and demonstration of high-tech, eco-efficient processing and packaging, smart control applications and more efficient management of by-products, wastes and energy. New research will also develop sustainable and novel technologies for animal feed, including safe feed processing formulations and for feed quality control.


         Assuring chemical and microbiological safety and improving quality in the European food supply. This will include understanding the links between microbial ecology and food safety; developing methods and models addressing the integrity of the food supply chains; new detection methods, and technologies and tools for risk assessment, management, and communication, and enhance the understanding of risk perception.


         Protecting both human health and the environment through a better understanding of the environmental impacts on and of food/feed chains. This will involve study of food contaminants and health outcomes, developing enhanced tools and methods for the assessment of impacts of food and feed chains on the environment. Assuring quality and the integrity of the food chain requires new models for commodity chain analysis and total food chain management concepts, including consumer aspects.


Life sciences and biotechnology for sustainable non-food products and processes:


To strengthen the knowledge base and develop advanced technologies for terrestrial or marine biomass production for applications in energy and industry. This will include plant, animal and microbial genomics and metabolomics to improve the productivity and composition of raw materials and biomass feedstocks for optimised conversion to high added value products, while exploiting natural or enhanced terrestrial and aquatic organisms as novel sources. This will fully incorporate life cycle analysis of farming practices, transportation, and storage and market deployment of bio-products.

Accordingly the application of industrial biotechnologies within the whole crop chain to realise the full potential of the bio-refinery approach, including socioeconomic, agronomic, and ecological and consumer aspects will be addressed. This will be enhanced by an increased understanding and control of plant and microbial metabolism at the cellular and sub-cellular level, in the production of high value commodities deploying bio-processes with increased yield, quality and purity of conversion products, including biocatalytic process design. Furthermore, biotechnologies for novel and improved high quality, high added value and renewable forest-based products and processes will be used or developed to increase sustainability of wood and wood production, including timber and renewable bioenergy stocks. Finally, the potential of biotechnology to detect, monitor, prevent, treat and remove pollution with an emphasis on maximising the economic value of waste and by-products through new bio-processes, alone or in combination with plant systems and/or chemical catalysts will be addressed.