26 July 2018 – CONCEPT PAPER - ITALIAN MICROBIOME INITIATIVE FOR IMPROVED HUMAN HEALTH AND AGRI-FOOD PRODUCTION
We are pleased to inform you that the National Committee for Biosafety, Biosecurity and Life Sciences (CNBBSV) recently launched an initiative in support of research and innovation on the microbiome of Italy.
As you know, microbiomes are ecological communities found in humans, plants, animals and terrestrial and marine environments, and jointly contribute to the safe growth and health of the organisms on our plant. Ongoing studies are demonstrating that the structures and dynamics of microbiomes across the different components of the food system (from soils and marine habitats, to plants, animals and the foods derived therefrom) can affect overall primary production quantity, quality and sustainability and hence food quality and safety and this, in turn, impacts on human health. More competitive, sustainable and healthy socioeconomic growth thus requires more knowledge and a more effective exploitation of the microbiome potentials.
The European Commission has funded 216 projects (for about € 500 M) to date as part of FP7 and H2020 to advance and exploit knowledge on microbiomes involving food systems. However, so far Italy has played a minor role in this effort and in this strategic area of innovation, despite the major expertise and interest in this sector of its researchers and companies. A tailored national strategy on microbiomes is required that addresses i) the integration and joint exploitation of existing knowledge and infrastructures and filling of the gaps in R&I; ii) the interconnection of public researchers, industry and policy makers across the whole food system; and iii) the alignment and integration of R&I funds and funding strategies by reducing duplication and leveraging previous investments.
A small group of experts nominated by the President of the CNBBSV have developed a preliminary document that presents the main Italian needs and opportunities in the sector and offers a strategy for addressing them in the near future. It is now open to scientific, technical and policy contributions from national scientific and industrial associations.
We would be very pleased to have your advice, suggestions and proposed amendments.
We look forward to the active cooperation of yourself and your colleagues in the implementation of this initiative. Thank you in advance for your support.
Andrea Lenzi, President of the National Committee of Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences
Fabio Fava, Horizon2020 Societal Challenge 2 Programming Committee, EU Commission & National Committee for Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences