Knowledge Based Bio-Economy

Policies

Biotechnology is the driving technology of the bio-economy. It contributes to innovation in all the other Activities under the bio-economy, namely food, agriculture and forestry, and fisheries and aquaculture.

Due to the very interdisciplinary nature of the bio-economy, each of the six areas under Activity 2.3 Biotechnologies is linked to a wide range of different European policies. Furthermore, they are also influenced by many international policies and strategy papers.

In the following, some of the main policies that are related to the different areas of biotechnology are listed.

 Area 2.3.1 Novel sources of biomass and bio-products

Research priorities in this area are positioned within and driven by a wide number of European policy areas.

The optimisation and sustainable exploitation of terrestrial biomass for use in bioindustries (also see industrial biotechnology and biorefinery) or as directly saleable end-products (e.g. timber) can significantly contribute to the objectives of several European policy areas, in particular Agriculture and Environment.

With regard to agricultural and rural development, the goals pursued by Area 2.3.1 are in line with those of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP ), the Health Check of the CAP, the Organic Farming Action Plan and the Forestry Action Plan. A good overview of the relevant policy areas is provided on the DG Agriculture website.

On environment, some of the relevant policies are the Green paper on adaptation to climate change, the Environment Technologies Action Plan (ETAP), the Water Initiative, the EU Biodiversity Action Plan and the Renewed Sustainable Development Strategy. A comprehensive summary of policy areas can also be found on the DG Environment website.

In terms of competitiveness, the optimised exploitation of terrestrial biomass and the discovery of new organisms and biochemical pathways for bioindustries will be key for the successful implementation of the lead markets on Bio-based Products and Renewable Energy identified under the Lead Market Initiative for Europe . A more detailed overview of relevant innovation policies can be found on the DG Enterprise and Industry website.

The exploration of novel sources of biomass and bioproducts offers interesting opportunities for the EU's activities in the area of development, e.g. through the EU-Africa Strategic Partnership, but is also very relevant in the context of trade, e.g. on raw materials.

Further information on agriculture and forestry related research activities and policies can also be found under the KBBE webpages on Agriculture and Forestry.

 Area 2.3.2 Marine and fresh-water biotechnology (blue biotechnology)

In this area, research priorities are strongly driven by Marine and Maritime policies on economical and environmental sustainability.

Our seas and oceans with their largely unexplored biodiversity provide a high potential for innovation in two different fronts: the better understanding of marine and maritime resources and its biodiversity, and the more efficient exploitation of their economic and scientific potential. Marine biotechnology is the enabling tool that will allow translating this potential into real products and acknowledge.

The Action Plan for the EU Integrated Maritime Policy and the related Green paper on Maritime Policy specifically call for a strong science base maritime policy and identify blue biotechnology as one of the key enabling technologies and maritime economic sectors. European Strategy for Marine and Maritime Research prioritises marine biodiversity and biotechnology research, and recognised its potential to contribute to new knowledge on which to base high value products and processes and increase marine resources and biodiversity understanding. More detailed information is provided on the DG Maritime Affairs website.

Advances in Marine biotechnology research will also contribute to more effectively protect the marine environment across Europe and this through the definition of Good Environmental Status (GES) indicators as requested by European Union's Marine Strategy Framework. A comprehensive summary of environmental policy can also be found on the DG Environment website.

More detailed information on research activities and related policies in marine and fresh water environments that link to Area 2.3.2 may also be found under the KBBE webpage on Fisheries and Aquaculture and the DG Research and Innovation website.

 Area 2.3.3 Industrial biotechnology: novel high added-value bio-products and bio-processes

In this area, research priorities are strongly driven by policies on economical and environmental sustainability and competitiveness.

Industrial biotechnology has been identified as one of five key-enabling technology (KETs) for the EU in the context of the policy initiative on Preparing for our future: Developing a common strategy for key enabling technologies in the EU .

In terms of competitiveness, industrial biotechnology is a key enabling technology for the implementation of the lead markets on Bio-based Products and Renewable Energyidentified under the Lead Market Initiative for Europe . A more detailed overview of relevant innovation policies can be found on the DG Enterprise and Industry website.

Industrial biotechnology will also contribute to finding new and better ways of producing and consuming energy in line with the goals of the plan on Investing in the Development of Low Carbon Technologies (SET-Plan). Some further information can be found on the DG Energy website.

Furthermore, industrial biotechnology offers the possibility to green the chemical industry by substituting energy and resource intensive and polluting chemical processes by cleaner bio-processes, thus contributing to the goals of the Communication on a Resource Efficient Europe , for example with regard to the waste legislation and the Water Initiative, but also to the objectives of the regulatory framework on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH). A broader overview of relevant policies can be found on the DG Environment website.

 Area 2.3.4 Biorefinery

The policy drivers for this area are closely related to those for industrial biotechnology

Biorefinery research involving the application of biotechnology for the production of bioproducts and biofuels has a high potential for innovation and can significantly contribute to a "greener" economic growth, supporting the EU's Climate Action – Energy for a Changing World's goals as described in the Communication 20 20 by 2020 Europe's Climate Change Opportunity . More information can be found on the DG Energy website.

By replacing oil by renewable raw materials or waste in the refinery processes, the area of biorefinery contributes to the goals of the Communication on a Resource Efficient Europe , for example with regard to the waste legislation. A broader overview of relevant policies can be found on the DG Environment website.

Biorefinery developments will also contribute to the economic efficiency and sustainability of energy technologies in line with the goals of the Communication Investing in the Development of Low Carbon Technologies (SET-Plan). Some further information can again be found on the DG Energy website.

Deployment of European biorefineries will be key for the implementation of the lead markets on Bio-based Products and Renewable Energy identified under the Lead Market Initiative for Europe . A more detailed overview of relevant innovation policies can be found on the DG Enterprise and Industry website.

 Area 2.3.5 Environmental biotechnology

The area of environmental biotechnology addresses a wide range of policy areas, in particular in the area of environment and health.

Environmental biotechnology will contribute to finding better ways to mitigate environmental pollution, e.g. water and soil contamination. These activities are in line with the goals of the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection and the Water Framework Directive. A broader overview of relevant policies can be found on the DG Environment website.

Furthermore, environmental biotechnology increases the knowledge-base on biodiversity by investigating microbial communities with the help of novel tools, such as metagenomics, proteomics, metabolomics, in line with policy area 4 of the EU Biodiversity Action Plan . Further information can be found on the website dedicated to the Natura 2000 initiative.

Environmental biotechnology contributes to the search for more environmentally friendly solutions for industrial processes and products, which will reduce energy consumption, waste production and stimulate the use of renewable resources. These will contribute to the targets of two policy initiatives, namely Lead Market Initiative for Europe and Preparing for our future: Developing a common strategy for key enabling technologies in the EU . A more detailed overview of relevant innovation policies can be found on the DG Enterprise and Industry website.

Activities in this area take full account of any risks related to the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment, as required by the EU regulatory framework on GMOs.

 Area 2.3.6 Emerging trends in biotechnology

This area covers a range of interdisciplinary enabling technologies such us nanobiotechnology, bioinformatics, synthetic and systems biology.

Emerging trends in biotechnology are the innovation drivers for industrial biotechnology and nanotechnologies, which have been identified as part of five key-enabling technology (KETs) for the EU in the context of the policy initiative Preparing for our future: Developing a common strategy for key enabling technologies in the EU , in particularly in the case of nanobiotechnology. The synergetic effect of nano and biotechnologies through nanobiotechnology has also been highlighted in the Communication Towards a European Strategy for Nanotechnology . A more detailed overview of relevant innovation policies can be found on the DG Enterprise and Industry website.

Emerging trends in biotechnology, especially bioinformatics and systems biology, are also driving innovation in the areas of Environmental biotechnology and Novel sources of biomass and bioproducts and thus indirectly address a number of European policies in these areas.

Potential societal and ethical challenges arising from these developments needs also to be correctly addressed. The societal and ethical challenges arising from Synthetic Biology has recently been addressed by the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), in the EGE report on Ethics in Synthetic Biology .

Relevant international policy and strategy documents:

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