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Uniting for a Greener Future: Joint Policy Paper of the EU Bioremediation Cluster

We Cannot Stop Now: A Call for Urgent Action in Environmental Biotechnology Research in Europe –

joint policy document to all EU decision-makers and stakeholders with a say in Environmental Research, from member projects of the EU Bioremediation Cluster


Joint policy document_EU bioremediation cluster
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Environmental Biotechnology, which was in its infancy in the late 20th century, has evolved significantly thanks to breakthroughs in Molecular Biology, Systems Biology, and Synthetic Biology. Multiple successes in the biological cleanup of municipal and industrial wastewater and hydrocarbon soil pollution demonstrate the vast power of clean technologies. Additionally, we now have extensive information on the activities of microorganisms as biocatalysts in various environments, highlighting their critical role in biological, ecological, industrial, and geological systems.


Why We Must Act Now:


  • Tackling Climate Change Challenges

Climate change, largely generated by industrial, farming, and urban activities, exacerbates environmental burdens such as antibiotic resistance and endocrine disruptors. Environmental biotechnology has the potential to prevent food chain contamination, protect life, and support economic development without compromising sustainability.


  • Developing a Fully Integrated Knowledge Base

Given the complexity of the compounds to be degraded, the varying environments to be treated, and the multitude of organisms with potential bioremediation activities, we must develop a fully integrated knowledge base. Advancements in nanotechnology and genomics should be compiled into common platforms and databases to facilitate easy retrieval and data integration. This will enable the development of interdisciplinary solutions and synergistic systems for bioremediation.


  • Creating Expert Systems and Models

Integrating databases with expert systems into a cohesive information system will produce a true 21st-century tool for management and research purposes. Managed data becomes information, and information fed into modeling and predictive systems becomes knowledge. This knowledge supports decision-making and is crucial for policymakers, scientists, and industry to work together effectively.


The Benefits for All

Apart from scientists and policymakers, the public has everything to gain from environmental biotechnology research.

  • Human Health: There is growing evidence that human health is directly dependent on the environment. Environmental biotechnology can help prevent diseases related to environmental degradation and diffuse pollution, a challenge that knows no borders.

  • Economic Benefits: Environmental biotechnology also promises economic benefits such as the development of clean technologies with competitive advantages in the global economy and the remediation of contaminated sites for public or private benefit.


The Call to Action

It is the duty of industrialized societies and their political leadership to fund and encourage science that addresses the problems created by industrialization. Environmental biotechnology is a pillar of mission-oriented science that transcends national borders.

Previous Framework Programmes of the European Union planted the seeds for this booming field. Unfortunately, the new Programs of the European Union assign a minor role to environmental biotechnology and bioremediation.


Recurrent environmental crises are not only severe pollution problems but also have serious political consequences. Even considering short-term returns, the European Commission should prioritize this research due to the social and economic costs associated with environmental problems. Highlighting bioremediation research in future programs could improve public perception of European Commission policies.


Europe cannot stop now!

Environmental biotechnology is crucial for human health and green technologies and can significantly improve the quality of life for future generations. We need a major European-funded environmental biotechnology research initiative now.




 
The EU Bioremediation Cluster

The EU Bioremediation cluster gathers the 6 ongoing projects funded by the European Commission. These projects are: MIBIREM, SYMBIOREM, BIOSYSMO, NYMPHE, EDAPHOS, and ISLANDR.


More information about projects:

NYMPHE

NYMPHE is a four years European project dedicated to tackling environmental pollution by developing innovative bioremediation solutions.


The ambition is to remove multiple pollutants (such as microplastics and pesticides in the agricultural soil, and chlorinated solvents and petroleum hydrocarbon in groundwater and sediments in the industrial area) from different contaminated sites in Europe. Nymphe’s actions will improve the ecological quality and health of soils and waters. Utilizing nature-based, low-energy, and low-chemical solutions to eliminate pollutants will contribute to the expected outcomes of the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan.

ISLANDR


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