A high level expert group to support the definition and implementation of the EU scientific programme for Expo Milano 2015 has been set up by the JRC, the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, and the European Parliament. Today's kick-off meeting was opened by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science together with Vladimir Šucha, Director-General of the JRC.
The role of this Steering Committee will be to provide scientific and knowledge-based analysis and advice on research and innovation options to address the global food security challenge. The aim of this first encounter is to identify the key topics to be addressed by the Committee, to organise its work methodology, and define a roadmap for its work. The expert group will seek to promote a policy debate on "feeding the planet" among the 144 participants and contribute to the legacy of Expo 2015. At the end of the Italian European semester in December 2014, the Committee will present a report on its work, reviewing EU research and innovation on food security and related issues.
Focusing on the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life", Expo 2015 addresses one of the biggest global challenges of the future: how to ensure sufficient, good, healthy and sustainable food for all mankind. Building on its extensive scientific expertise on food security, safety and quality, the JRC has been tasked to co-ordinate the EU's institutional participation in the world exposition, taking place in Milan from 1 May to 31 October 2015.
The Committee is chaired by former European Commissioner for Agriculture Franz Fischler, and includes – amongst others - Tim Benton (University of Leeds), Joachim von Braun (University of Bonn), Béatrice Darcy-Villon (INRA), Peter Heffernan (Irish Marine Institute) and Claudia Sorlini (University of Milan), who have been selected for their widely-recognised experience related to the theme of Expo 2015.
According to estimates of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), agricultural production has to increase by up to 70% to feed nine billion people in 2050. At the same time, competition for land, water and energy will intensify, while the effects of climate change will become increasingly apparent.