2016 Press Releases

APC hosts Microbiome-based Foods workshop

25 Feb 2016
Avril Doyle, former MEP; Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development; Dr Sally Cudmore, General Manager, APC Microbiome Institute; and Professor Gerald Fitzgerald, Deputy Director, APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork.

The next generation of functional food and feed will be directed towards the microbiome to improve health, drive food production and support a more sustainable agriculture, a workshop hosted by the APC Microbiome Institute (APC) in Brussels heard earlier this week.

The Microbiome-based Foods for Health and Sustainability workshop, held at the Thon Hotel EU in Brussels, brought together the research community, academia, industry, and policy and decision-makers. 

Fergus Shanahan, director of the APC Microbiome Institute, stressed: “As an institute our researchers have been at the forefront of relating food and microbial diversity with health. Our research is bringing tangible benefits to society by contributing to our understanding of the importance of microbes in individuals. We have a long history in understanding how the microbiome influences human health and finding novel ways to treat acute and chronic illnesses. As an organization we have ambitious plans to lead microbiome science to ensure that its benefits will be realized in specific innovations while making an important contribution to the EU research agenda.”

Speakers highlighted the effects of dietary and lifestyle choices on food demands and the challenges faced by production systems in relation to food nutritional security and sustainability. Furthermore, the relevance of the microbiome and its associated transformative technologies to the food value chain was examined, as well as their potential to boost innovation for societal and economic impact for Europe.

“There is no one-size fits all solution when it comes to designing an agriculture policy, or a research policy, to address massive societal challenges. Intensive farming will have a role to play, as will small-scale organic production. Local co-operatives will have a role to play, as will academic institutions, and private investors. What we can all agree on, however, is that the improved use of science and innovation will make a vital difference in every sector – in every field and in every lab,” said Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, as he addressed the participants of the workshop.

"I am also glad to see that more and more countries are developing research systems with a clear transdisciplinary approach. The APC Microbiome Institute is a perfect example with this respect; linking Irish science with industry and society while working across boundaries of traditional research sectors,” he added.

The event coincided with the European Commission’s Workshop on Plant Microbiomes.

It is also happening in the context of several EU-level developments that will significantly impact and benefit microbiome and other scientific research in the EU, such as the publication of the 2016 ESFRI Roadmap, the approaching revelation of the ambitious European Open Science Cloud, the impending adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation, and upcoming Horizon 2020 mid-term evaluation and the work on preparations for the 9th Framework Programme.

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