The acronym KBBE (and its equivalent twitter hashtag) may not yet be well known, but what it stands for – the Knowledge-Based BioEconomy – soon will be as it is recognized as being at the very core of the European Union’s economic development. To this end I visited Brussels to attend an extremely important conference on ‘the KBBE towards 2020’. The plenaries were from EC Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geogheghan-Quinn, from Marion Guillou (CEO of our sister French Agriculture Research Organisation INRA), ex-EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler and the CEO of Novozymes Steen Riisgard. It was excellently chaired by Maive Rute, Director of the Biotechnologies, Agriculture and Food Directorate. What was striking about each of these brilliant and inspiring presentations was the straightforward recognition – to the extent that they simply regarded it as axiomatic – that
- a very large fraction of the future EU economy was indeed going to (have to) come from innovations in agriculture and the bioindustries that flow from the fact that pretty well all carbon (for energy and chemicals and materials of all kinds) will need to have been fixed from atmospheric CO2 by modern photosynthesis (as opposed to that which occurred on geological timescales).
- that world-class bioscience and biotechnology were going to be the main means by which this would be achieved. [...]