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Hidden Treasures: Sustainable and efficient use of its marine resources can help the EU reach its 2020 objectives

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  • Biotechnology
  • Biology
  • Economics


13 December 2010 PARLIAMENTMAGAZINE 79 E urope faces many challenges in the coming decade, among them the growing demand for sustainable food and energy, and recovery from the economic downturn. An essential part of addressing these will be to use our untapped marine biological resources. The four seas and two oceans surrounding Europe’s 89,000 kilometres of coastline support a wide range of ecosys- tems and organisms. Marine biotechnology takes these living resources and uses cutting-edge techniques to develop new products or services, contributing to a sustainable supply of food, energy, new health treatments and materials. It is already a €2.8bn market, with potential to grow up to 12 per cent annually over the next few years. By acting quickly, Europe can become a global leader in this innovative field by 2020. The steps needed to fulfil the promise of marine biotechnol- ogy are outlined in a new report from the marine board of the European science foundation (ESF). In identifying areas for future research and innovation, ‘Marine Biotechnology: A new vision and strategy for Europe’ shows that the sustainable use of marine bioresources can help deliver the EU 2020 targets, ensuring we emerge from the global downturn with a greener, smarter economy. Biofuels are just one example of how marine biotech can help: cultivating microalgae for fuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent. This technology is perhaps the most promising way of harnessing the ocean’s bioenergy, but needs more in depth research to cut costs and increase production. Europe’s waters also offer a potential source of drugs, biomateri- als and industrial products such as biopolymers. More than 13 marine derived compounds are in clinical development and four Hidden treasures Sustainable and efficient use of its marine resources can help the EU achieve its 2020 objectives, writes Niall McDonough are already on the market. Many of these are targeting cancer. There is also scope

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