EUROPE: Bio-economy competitiveness conference
Held from 13-14 September, this was the third European conference focusing on bio-economy. The first took place five years ago and dealt with how Europe could use biological resources to produce eco-efficient products. The second, a year later, produced a 20-year plan on bio-economy in Europe.
"Today the European bio-economy already represents an annual turnover of EUR2 billion and employs 22 million people. The forecasts are that its size will rise strongly in the coming decades," said Ingrid Lieten, Vice-minister-president and Minister for Innovation in the Flemish government, Belgium, in her opening speech.
"Building a bio-economy will serve the environment, a strong and competitive industry and will benefit the society at large."
During the two-day conference, members of the European research and political communities made presentations concerning the agriculture industry in Europe.
Marion Guillou, CEO of France's Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, lectured participants on sustainable agriculture and a healthy diet. Her presentation addressed challenges facing food and nutrition security including demography, urbanisation, natural resource dependence and fossil carbon limitations.
Dr Rudolf Strohmeier, Deputy Director-general of the European Commission's scientific advances unit, highlighted the need for different industries and scientific fields to come together to push the commission's bio-economy action plan.
The success of this project requires full engagement not only from those individuals directly involved in the project but also from Europe's public and young generation, said Strohmeier.
Other presenters included Professor Dianna Bowles of the University of York, England, and Michael Carus, of Germany's Nova Institut.