Greens and genes are key

July 5, 1996

European research should focus on genetics development, creating a sustainable environment and examining social change, according to the European Science Foundation.

The recommendations form part of a report prepared by the foundation for the European Union's research commissioner, Edith Cresson. She is looking into the needs of the next framework programme, the union's multibillion-pound research initiative. The current framework programme, the fourth in the series, comes to an end in 1998.

The foundation represents leading national funders of basic research in 21 countries, including Britain's research councils. It says that Europe needs to "reinvigorate" its commitment to science to boost the competitiveness of its industries, create greater employment and a higher quality of life. To meet these challenges, the union's future research agenda should be based on five key research themes: * novel information and communication technologies and the social impacts of digital technologies * advanced industrial technologies compatible with the physical environment and human health * molecular mechanisms in life and health including research to exploit genetic data and structural biology * sustainable use of resources, environmental management and the relationship between the environment and health * research on change and stability in European society including culture as an integrating force; changing patterns of mobility and transport and communications.

The foundation, whose president is Sir Dai Rees, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, says that achieving the goals under these themes will require "considerable investment". Better training and mobility of researchers, for instance, is needed as well as more effective dialogue between scientists and governments.

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