Feed the world: How Horizon 2020 aims to ensure supplies of safe, high quality food

18 Dec 2013 | News
The work programme ‘Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy’ will award €248.5M over the next two years to help Europe make the best of its biological resources

The Food Security work programme has the dual objectives of securing sufficient supplies of safe, healthy and high quality food, and also ensuring efficient provision of other bio-based products, by developing productive, sustainable and resource-efficient primary production systems and fostering related ecosystem services.

The programme will also support projects to promote recovery of biological diversity and the development of  ,competitive and low carbon supply chains. Overall, it is intended that this will accelerate the transition to a sustainable European bioeconomy, by bridging the gap between new technologies and their implementation. 

Delivering this will require projects that cut across different fields of research and technology with a market-driven approach. The involvement of end users including farmers, fishers, consumers and public authorities will be a key to achieving this. In particular, several topics will involve a multi-disciplinary approach that integrates social and economic sciences and humanities. 

The programme is divided into three areas: Sustainable Food Security; Blue Growth: Unlocking the Potential of Seas and Oceans; and Innovative, Sustainable and Inclusive Bioeconomy

Sustainable food security

This part of the work programme is broken down into three parts, looking at production systems, good and healthy diets and global driver of food security.

Ensuring the availability of, and access to, sufficient safe and nutritious food is a key priority, while at the same time the production and processing of food is a significant part of the economy. Given the economic importance of the food sector, the potential gains from research and innovation, and the structure of the sector - which involves many SMEs - the aim is to develop competitive and resource-efficient aquatic and terrestrial food production systems by funding projects on: eco-intensification of production and sustainable management of natural resources, while addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Overall, this will cover the whole food chain, including both the supply and demand sides. The economic and strategic importance of the agri-food sector is reflected in the fact that in 2011 agricultural exports were worth €105 billion, or 7 per cent of the total value of EU exports. The food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing industry in the EU, generating turnover of €956 billion in 2010, almost half by SMEs, with over four million jobs. The whole agri-food sector employs 17 million people.

In total, there are 20 separate projects, with €138 million available in 2014 and €110.5 million in 2015.

Blue Growth: Unlocking the potential of Seas and Oceans

Rapid progress in working offshore in ever-deeper waters, coupled with the need to look at how the 71 per cent of the planet that is seas and oceans can deliver food and energy in a sustainable way, have opened up an opportunity for blue growth.
This area addresses the overall challenge through five cross-cutting project areas: capitalising on the diversity of marine life; sustainable harvesting the deep-sea resources; new offshore challenges; ocean observation technologies; and the socioeconomic factors. The aim is to improve the understanding of the complex interrelations between various maritime activities and technologies, to boost the marine economy.
At present sea and ocean bio-resources provide 15 per cent of the animal protein consumed globally; blue biotechnology has an expected yearly growth rate of 5 to 10 per cent. Meanwhile, deep-sea mineral extraction could grow to represent up to 10 per cent of the world's minerals and marine renewable energy will generate 40 gigawatts per annum by 2020.

The Blue economy in the EU is expected to employ 7 million people by 2020. To maximise the impacts, there will be a specific effort to mobilise the critical mass to tackle these large cross-cutting challenges with adequate scale and scope.

In 2014, the sustainable exploitation of the diversity of marine life will put emphasis on valuing and mining marine biodiversity, while in 2015 the focus will be on the preservation and sustainable exploitation of marine ecosystems and climate change effects on marine living resources. 

There will be €100 million under the 2014 budget and €45 million from the 2015 budget for this research.

Innovative, Sustainable and Inclusive Bioeconomy

This call includes work to support sustainable agriculture and forestry management processes providing public goods and innovative products for sustainable growth; fostering innovation, including social innovation, in rural areas; and enhancing innovation in the bio-based industry for smart growth. 

Most research relating to sustainable and competitive bio-based industries will be implemented through the Joint Technology Initiative on Bio-based Industries. Activities proposed in the current call are complementary to those undertaken by the JTI, and target the supply side of the biomass to bioproducts value chain, through the development of innovative feed stocks, research on next generation bio-refineries using CO2 as direct feedstock, and supporting markets for bio-based products.

A total of €86.5 million will be available over the next two years, of which €44.5 million will be awarded in 2014.

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