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Microbiome research: A key to improving health, driving food production, and boosting EU innovation



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.

These were the starting points of discussions at the workshop Microbiome-based Foods for Health and Sustainability which was hosted by the APC Microbiome Institute in Brussels. This event brought together the research community, academia, industry, 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.”

The workshop is taking place at a time when microbiome science is being increasingly recognized as a central part of health. Today 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.

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.

click here to see a summary of the meeting, and download speaker presentations