Midterm Symposium in Brussels, Belgium on February 20th, 2024

GeneBEcon project funded by the European Union focuses on circular bio-based systems through New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) and innovates climate-friendly solutions for agriculture and aquaculture, aligning with the European Green Deal and Circular Economy Action Plan.

As part of the project’s event agenda and the continuous effort to bring solutions, GeneBEcon will organize its midterm symposium on February 20th, 2024 at 09:30 – 15:00 CET located in BLUEPOINT, Blvd Auguste Reyers 80, 1030 Brussels, Belgium.

The symposium will offer the opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders and policymakers to exchange on the potential and desirability of using NGTs to develop more sustainable raw materials for the bio-based industry. The objective is to involve participants in conversations about project outcomes, regulatory context, and the dynamic interaction between innovation and consumer engagement, all within the expansive scope of the ever-changing bioeconomy landscape.

More information on the agenda can be found here.

RRI Workshop Online on November 9th, 2023

GeneBEcon will conduct its 1st RRI Workshop online on November 9th 2023. The primary objectives of the RRI workshop series are to openly deliberate on the “Motivational Factors for NGTs and Framing an NGT Future” with the overarching goal of formulating an NGTs Transition Vision and Action Plan. The workshop aimed to initiate the co-creation process, working towards establishing this goal. The GeneBEcon RRI workshops are organised and facilitated by the GeneBEcon partner, XPRO Consulting Limited following its method of the RRI Roadmap ãä and in close collaboration with the GeneBEcon partner, EV ILVO.

Events – Midterm Symposium – News&Events

The first peer-reviewed scientific article prepared by partners of the GeneBEcon consortium is published in Nature Plants. The article, “Options for regulating new genomic techniques for plants in the European Union” describes a range of options for regulating plants derived from New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) in the European Union (EU) and assesses their respective impacts on biosafety data requirements, the likelihood of uptake and overall socio-economic implications.

 

Peer-reviewed scientific article by GeneBEcon Consortium: “Options for Regulating NGTs for Plants in the EU”

The first peer-reviewed scientific article prepared by partners of the GeneBEcon consortium is published in Nature Plants. The article, “Options for regulating new genomic techniques for plants in the European Union” describes a range of options for regulating plants derived from New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) in the European Union (EU) and assesses their respective impacts on biosafety data requirements, the likelihood of uptake and overall socio-economic implications.

More information on the article can be found here.

GeneBEcon’s press release on the article can be found here.

 

The 1st Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Workshop Online on November 9th, 2023

In a significant step towards fostering Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), the GeneBEcon project has conducted its 1st RRI Workshop. The primary objectives of the RRI workshop series are to openly deliberate on the “Motivational Factors for NGTs and Framing an NGT Future” with the overarching goal of formulating an NGTs Transition Vision and Action Plan. The workshop aimed to initiate the co-creation process, working towards establishing this goal. The GeneBEcon RRI workshops are organised and facilitated by the GeneBEcon partner, XPRO Consulting Limited following its method of the RRI Roadmap ãä and in close collaboration with the GeneBEcon partner, EV ILVO.

 

Aiming to instil trust in New Genomic Techniques (NGTs), the workshop focused on creating awareness and ensuring transparency in research and innovation activities and their outcomes. The workshop’s success was underscored by the active participation of stakeholders committed to contributing to the responsible advancement of genomic technologies.

 

The inaugural RRI workshop witnessed an insightful co-creation activity where participants used a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis approach to comprehensively discuss New Genomic Techniques. Through this approach, participants identified the internal and external factors affecting NGTs desirability for use and proposed innovative ideas for actionable strategies, which will be expanded in enriched in the upcoming RRI workshops.

 

GeneBEcon thanks all participants who dedicated their expertise and collaborative efforts during the workshop. The success of this event marks a crucial step forward in building a foundation of responsible and transparent practices within the realm of genomic research and innovation. The GeneBEcon project looks forward to continued collaboration and engagement as it progresses towards developing a robust NGT Transition Vision and Action Plan.”

The 2nd GeneBEcon Consortium Meeting in Limassol, Cyprus

The GeneBEcon project held the 2nd Consortium Meeting at the Municipal University Library in Limassol, Cyprus, for 2 days on October 4th and 5th, 2023. During this Consortium Meeting, 18 partners from 11 European countries discussed the New Genomic Technique (NGT) proposal of the European Commission, which included NGT verification, authorisation procedures and guiding the partners on the transition from expected to key exploitable results.

The 2nd GeneBEcon Consortium Meeting Objectives were to:

  1. Take status of the 1-year GeneBEcon project activities and results,
  2. Plan the forthcoming activities and the project mid-term review,
  3. Reinforce the collaboration among all GeneBEcon partners,
  4. Collaborate for resolving any potential issues and risks regarding the GeneBEcon tasks,
  5. Hold the 2nd Consortium General Assembly,
  6. 1st Stakeholder Advisory Board Meeting (SAB) with all GeneBEcon partners.

GeneBEcon and the Cyprus University of Technology Joint Event: the Science-Policy Symposium

On October 6th at the Municipal Cultural Centre Panos Solomonides Limassol, Cyprus, the Science-Policy Symposium was held. Titled “What do NGTs mean for agriculture, aquaculture, food security and the bioeconomy“, the event discussed New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) in plants and microalgae. The Symposium was organised by GeneBEcon and the Cyprus University of Technology under the auspices of the Cyprus’ Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment. Distinguished attendees of the Symposium include Petros Xenofontos, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus; Jessica Polfjärd, Member of the European Parliament, Sweden, Member of the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, rapporteur for New Genomic Techniques for the European Parliament; Alexandre Huchelmann, Policy Officer, Unit E3 Biotechnology, European Commission, DG Health, and Food Safety; Dennis Eriksson, Assoc. Prof. at the Department of Plant Breeding, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Coordinator of the GeneBEcon EU project, Sweden; Xenia Theodotou Schneider, Owner and principal consultant of XPRO Consulting Limited, Cyprus; Project Manager of the GeneBEcon EU project; Andreas Katsiotis, Prof. Dean of Faculty of Geotechnical Sciences and Environmental Management, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus; Evelyne Delezie; Research Group Leader of small livestock husbandry, Animal Sciences Unit, Flanders Research Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries and Food, Belgium; Petra Jorasch, Manager Plant Breeding and Innovation Advocacy, Euroseeds, Belgium; Andreas Pallides, Agricultural Research Officer A’, Genetics, Breeding and Biotechnology Plant improvement Section, Agricultural Research Institute, Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Cyprus; Johan Robbens, Leader Unit Blue Biotech and Food Integrity, Flanders Research Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries and Food, Belgium; Justus Wesseler, Prof. and Chair Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy Group, Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands; Mariette Andersson, CEO of SolEdits and Assoc. Prof. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Sweden; Michalis Koutinas, Assoc. Prof. and Department Chair, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus; Kai Purnhagen, Prof. Faculty of Life Sciences and the Law Faculty and Director of the Institute for German and European Food Law, University of Bayreuth, Germany.

At the beginning of the symposium, the Minister, Petros Xenofontos, gave a keynote speech stating that agricultural production is under threat due to climate change. Ministry currently revises strategy to respond to challenges – research and innovation should be the core of these efforts. The minister acknowledged that the use of NGTs can be beneficial to the EU if used correctly and given that they are safe. It can lead to the development of crops which can better perform under future climate scenarios. Ethical, regulatory and socioeconomic aspects need to be considered and addressed. Followed by Jessica Polfjärd, a member of the European Parliament, Sweden, rapporteur for New Genomic Techniques for the European Parliament, stated that NGT is an important tool and can lead to a win-win solution, with the potential to make European agriculture more competitive, green and maybe even more healthy. She added that political decisions should be based on the most profound science-backed information and expertise. However, distrust in science, especially in agriculture, is one of the greatest threats we are facing today. On this occasion, a Policy Officer, Unit E3 Biotechnology, European Commission, Alexandre Huchelmann, explained that NGTs are currently regulated under the GMO legislation. Still, it is not fit for purpose for this kind of technique. The proposal of the European Commission on the regulation of new genomic techniques distinguishes the NGT products into two categories dependent on genetic modification: Category 1 – NGT plants equivalent to conventional and Category 2 – NGT plants not equivalent to conventional.

After insightful interventions on the NGTs and their potential impact on both EU and Cypriot agriculture, a panel discussion was held, moderated by Petra Jorasch with 3 panel speakers, Jessica Polfjärd, Andreas Pallides, and Marios Adamides on behalf of the Cyprus Government, delving deeper into:

  • how can NGTs meet the agricultural challenges in Cyprus, what potential do they have in improving the Cypriot breeding program, and what are the local limitations to making use of NGTs;
  • What role can NGTs play in meeting sustainability goals set by EU Farm to Fork strategy:
  • What are the next steps to proceed with the NGT proposal at the political level, and how can projects like GeneBEcon help facilitate the dialogue?

After the break, the symposium continued with showcasing GeneBEcon and CUT activities, NGTs regulatory, and Socio-Economic significance. Some of the take-home notes were:

  • How sustainability in food processing can be increased by using NGTs in potato breeding. Potato is 3rd most important staple crop grown in the world. In northern Europe, it’s grown for consumption and its starch content. With NGTs, the storage ability of the starch in potatoes can be changed so that there is a reduction in the use of chemicals for its extraction.
  • The benefits of NGTs in microalgae, e.g. nutritional value (amount and quality of protein), improvement of taste. There are around 200000-800000 different algae species. Unfortunately, only a few are available for the market, as requirements for approval for such feed and food products are very high, which is a bottleneck. The NGTs can help to increase the taste and improve the nutritional profile. In GeneBEcon, NGT microalgae residual biomass will be tested for animal feed to contribute to a circular bioeconomy. In addition, we are using microalgae by exploring bio (chemical) processes to speed up the process to remove bioplastics quickly and efficiently.
  • Mainly, small-scale farmers could profit economically from NGT crops, reflecting on the past assessments and studies conducted on GMO crops. Moreover, an increase in independence is expected in weed management and a wider range of crop variety. However, there might be some possible issues, such as technology access.
  • New genomic techniques have much to contribute to the goals of the EU Green Deal, EU Farm to Fork strategy and circular economy action plan. Many aspects of sustainability take centre stage in law discussions, e.g., what kind of sustainability and which legislative approach to apply.

For further information, you can watch the entire symposium on GeneBEcon Youtube and for more information about GeneBEcon project, please check the website and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The EU Commission has published the legislative proposal for New Genomic Technology plants

GeneBEcon welcomes the publication of the EC’s legislative proposal to provide an adapted and proportionate assessment of NGT plants, acknowledging the diversity of outcomes possible using NGTs and considering both potential risks and benefits of the final plant product.

For more on GeneBEcon consortium´s reaction to the legislative proposal, you can see GeneBEcon´s press release.

The legislative proposal can be found here

The annexes can be found here

 

 

Postdoc position at the University of Latvia

To all interested in joining the GeneBEcon team!

Check the position announced for the full-time researcher (postdoc) position at the University of Latvia:

  • Organization: University of Latvia
  • Research field: Biological sciences (plant biotechnology)
  • Application deadline: 31/07/2023 23:00 – Europe/Brussels
  • Starting date: 01/09/2023 or until filled
  • Location: Riga, Latvia

Contact: Prof. Nils Rostoks – rostoks@lu.lv

Full information is available here

 

Science-Policy Symposium: New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) in Plants and Microalgae; 06/10/2023; 09:00-14:00 EEST ( Limassol, Cyprus)

What do NGTs mean for agriculture, aquaculture, food security and the bioeconomy?

➡️See event AGENDA

The EU-funded GeneBEcon project and the Cyprus University of Technology are organising the Science-Policy Symposium about New Genomic Techniques in Plants and Microalgae and their impact on agriculture, aquaculture, food security and bioeconomy. The Symposium will be held under the auspices of Cyprus` Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment.

Who should attend: Governmental officials and policymakers from Cyprus, EU and neighbouring countries, food industry representatives, agriculture and aquaculture representatives, researchers, academics and students.

The event will:

  • Illustrate how NGTs can contribute to food security and safety, the EU Green Deal, Farm to Fork Strategy, and Circular Bioeconomy goals.
  • Inform policymakers, researchers, students, and agri-food stakeholders about NGT-derived plants’ potential to support agriculture and aquaculture pressing issues.
  • Demonstrate regulatory options and their respective socio-economic impacts and illustrate how NGTs can enable Europe to achieve its goals.
  • Highlight key developments in NGTs and their applications in improving plant disease resistance and plant product quality to eliminate chemical industrial processing.
  • Showcase GeneBEcon research that is directly relevant to Cyprus’ potato and poultry sector
    • Virus-resistant potato with a more desirable starch profile, enabling less pesticide use in potato production and chemical-free extraction for the food industry Microalgae being used to produce high-value compounds and as poultry feed additive to improve gut health.

Relevance of NGTs for Cyprus: Cyprus has introduced several initiatives to boost its agriculture and NGTs could be one of them since its potato sector is one of the most important (40% of raw agricultural products) and 96% exports to the EU.

 

Click here to register.


Symposium Live Stream

 

 

Technical Report – Regulatory Options for New Genomic Techniques in the European Union

We have published the first GeneBEcon technical report entitled “Regulatory Options for New Genomic Techniques in the European Union”.

New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) represent a set of methods of added value to the plant breeding techniques, potentially contributing to a more sustainable and circular bioeconomy. In Europe, regulatory uncertainty reduces investment in NGTs at research, innovation, product development, and scaling-up of production processes. As a consequence, NGTs do not reach their full potential.

In order to address this regulatory uncertainty, this technical report discusses six different regulatory options for NGT products.

To get to know more about these regulatory options, check the report here.