EU and US continue to work jointly on biotechnology research

June 8, 2006

Brussels, 7 June 2006

On the occasion of a visit on 8 June to the United States of America, Janez Potočnik European Science and Research Commissioner, will sign the renewal of an administrative arrangement for the EC-US Task Force on Biotechnology Research. Since 1990 this task force has fostered the transatlantic dialogue of the European Commission with the US government to underline Europe’s role as an important global player in life sciences and biotechnology research. Within the new ERA-LINK scheme the Commissioner will also meet European scientists working in the US to inform them about latest developments in the European Research Area .

“The EC-US Task Force on biotechnology research represents a long-standing relationship between equal partners,” says Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. “Europe is determined to remain an important global player in Life Sciences and Biotechnology research and a continuing international dialogue with the US and other key players is important for us. The renewed signature constitutes a symbol of a continued effort toward closer scientific cooperation between the EU and USA in this promising field of research.”

New developments in life sciences and biotechnology open up opportunities to create added value in society, to improve medical diagnosis, care, and treatment; to enhance sustainability through the optimal use of biological renewable resources, to mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases and to reduce the adverse impact on the environment of agriculture, industry and aquaculture. These opportunities have been among the core topics of discussion in the context of the EC-US Task Force on Biotechnology Research - established in 1990 on the initiative of the European Commission and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

The EC-US Task Force on Biotechnology Research has set itself a difficult mandate - to anticipate the needs of tomorrow’s science, today. Through sponsoring workshops, and other activities, the transatlantic biotech task force brings together officials, scientific leaders and researchers in their early careers to forecast research challenges and to promote better links between scientific communities. It plays a major role in determining the direction of scientific cooperation and serves as an important forum for discussion, for coordination and for developing new ideas. The Task Force is currently addressing topic such as synthetic genomics, environmental biotechnology, plant science, and plant-based bio products; obesity; emerging infectious diseases, like avian flu and SARS.

During his visit to the US, Janez Potočnik will be accompanied by Professor Fotis C. Kafatos, the Chairman of the Scientific Council of the forthcoming European Research Council, the first pan-European funding agency being created with the adoption of the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7, 2007-2013) and designed to fund basic research in Europe.

Both, the Commissioner and Professor Kafatos, will also meet members in the ERA-LINK network, constituted from European researchers working in US institutions, and inform them about latest developments in pan-European research funding.
For the website of the EC-US Task Force on Biotechnology Research please see www.ec.europa.eu/research/biotechnology/ec-us .

The next annual workshop of the Task Force will be on “The Future of Livestock Genomics”, taking place in Brussels from 17-8 July 2006.

For more information on ERA-Link, the Network for European Researchers in the US, please see www.eurunion.org/legislat/ste/eralink.htm .

For more information on the forthcoming European Research Council (ERC), please see www.ec.europa.eu/erc .

Item source: IP/06/745 Date: 07/06/2006

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