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The EC-US Task Force on Biotechnology Research held its 2010 annual meeting yesterday in Barcelona, following previous years' meetings in Berkeley, Ispra, Boston, Brussels and Washington DC. The meeting was part of an international conference entitled Biotechnology Research for a Complex World, which was organized by the Spanish Ministry of Science (Micinn) and Innovation, the European Commission and the Pompeu Fabra University.

Researchers, scientific administrators, and policy makers debated the future of biotech research and the bioeconomy, and their implications for society. Montserrat Torné, the Director General for International Cooperation and Institutional Relations at the Ministry of Science and Innovation, overviewed the Task Force's progress from the time of its inception and highlighted its impact in biotech research areas such as biocomputation, nanobiotechnology and genomics. With an eye to the future, Torné affirmed that researchers on both sides of the Atlantic must work in concert to address issues such as emerging infectious diseases, alternatives to fossil fuels, and food safety.

In a video message, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, underscored that the research and innovation policy in the EU "will be focused on the major global challenges that are facings us—in particular, climate change, energy and resources efficiency, health, and ageing." According to Geoghegan-Quinn, biotechnology research can significantly contribute to all of these areas, and the EU must work more closely with the USA.

EC-US Task Force on Biotechnology Research

Since 1990, the Task Force —created by the European Commission and the White House Office of Science and Technology— has promoted biotechnology research, and its applications in society, by coordinating collaborations between the European Commission/Union and the United States. During its term, which is renewed every five years, the Working Group provides a forum for debate, coordination and development of new ideas, focusing on the future of biotechnology and on the challenges facing scientific communities in the EU and the USA. It encourages investigators to think beyond the conventional boundaries that separate scientific disciplines. 

Rudolf W. Strohmeier, the European Commission's Deputy Director for General Scientific Advances, recalled that the Task Force has become a reference for trans-Atlantic cooperation and is seeking a role in creating hubs for joint efforts in high quality research and in promoting sustainable development and economic growth. Strohmeier concluded by affirming that it is vital for European and American scientific agendas complement each other in these areas.  

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