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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



The European Union's campaign to improve food safety and quality includes provisions for boosting low-input and organic agriculture. To reduce hazards to human health and the environment from heavy metal (cadmium) loaded fertilisers and chemicals, the EU's Environmental Action Plan stipulates that food-chain organic wastes and byproducts should be recycled and upgraded into biofertilisers and biocontrol products. However, recycling of such wastes can also produce cross-contaminants, so new technology is needed. The 42-month PROTECTOR project brings together 12 partners from eight countries to develop a sustainable agriculture system for safe recycling and upgrading of food-chain organic wastes, to provide natural and economical alternatives to chemical pesticides and fertilisers.


PROTECTOR is using advanced analytical methods to study the complex biotechnological and biogeochemical processes in transforming food-chain organic waste into added-value products. The main goal is to develop a technique to recycle calcium- and phosphorus-rich animal bonemeal into safe and sterile mineral char, using an advanced high-temperature carbonisation and surface-modification device developed by the consortium. The char will be used as a carrier for natural microbiological strains, such as Trichoderma and others which can mobilise the nutrient phosphorous for plant uptake, and contribute to biocontrol. Comprehensive 'product-like' innovative and patented technology is being developed, and large-scale equipment designed, built and tested, including the total thermal decomposition of the animal by-products and integrated solid-state-fermentation formulation.

Other industrial by-products, such as corn steep liquor and possibly molasses, glycerine, and whey, will serve as nutrients for microbiological growth during a solid substrate fermentation and formulation process. The resulting fertiliser will be formulated for enhanced survival of the active micro-organism in the soil. The new biocontrol agents will primarily be aimed at fighting tomato crown rot, to dampen off plant pathogens and to improve plants' natural resistance. The development will be performed in large-scale and cost-efficient field applications to demonstrate the agro-industrial viability of the innovative methods and products.

The Swedish-Hungarian-led project will evaluate the phosphorous kinetics of soil and carry out a comprehensive risk assessment. Extensive field tests will be carried out in several countries with alternative production scenarios in different soil/ climatic conditions, including method validation and a cost-benefit analysis of the end products. The project will evaluate consumer acceptance of the agricultural products made using this new technology, and will demonstrate the effectiveness of its output in greenhouse tests. The STREP will disseminate its findings through workshops in several EU countries and Israel, on a specialised website, and through news organisations.


PROTECTOR will serve as a platform to emphasise the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) working in agriculture and food production. It will strengthen SMEs' technological capacity, making it easier for them to benefit from high-quality, cuttingedge research in the fields of recycling, biology and soil science. The PROTECTOR-developed process will convert industrial by-products into profitable, highquality agricultural products, lowering the cost of the organic waste-transformation process to around 20% of the current cost. It will contribute to the growth of low-input or pesticide-free cultivation that does not require subsidies, while improving food safety and quality and European agriculture's competitiveness.

List of Partners

  • Terra Humana Clean Technology Development, Engineering and Manufacturing (Hungary)
  • Plant Research International (The Netherlands)
  • University of Turin (Italy)
  • University of Paris-XI (France)
  • Migal Galilee Technologies (Israel)
  • Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Certificas (Spain)
  • The University of Reading (UK)
  • University of Rostock (Germany)
  • Universität Hannover (Germany)
  • UFZ - Umweltforschungszentrum Leipzig - Halle (Germany)
  • Smits Vuren (The Netherlands)
  • ARPAD Agrar Termelo Kereskedelmi es Szolgaltato (Hungary)
Full title:
Recycling and upgrading of bone meal for environmentally friendly crop protection and nutrition
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
G. Edward Someus, Terra Humana Clean Technology Development, Engineering and Manufacturing,
EC Scientific Officer:
Hallgeir Herikstad,
EU contribution:
€ 1.6M
Specific Targeted Research Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top