Innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs in the European food sector met at Koppert Biological Systems’ headquarters in the Netherlands last week Thursday to inspire collaboration and innovation in this sector for improved food production, nutrition and health. Hosted by Koppert, the conference encouraged the partners of EIT Food, a pan-EU consortium that focuses on the food sector, to work together to introduce and speed up the urgent changes needed in food production.
More than 60 participants took part in presentations and discussions that ranged from space food research funded by NASA, to ultra-nutritious vegetables produced indoors; from biological control agents such as macro- and microbiologicals, to using the crop’s own DNA to control harmful plant species.
Opening the conference, Koppert’s Director of Agriculture, Martin Koppert, explained the company’s holistic biological approach for controlling pests and diseases in agriculture and said he encouraged the exchange of ideas and collaboration. ‘We can learn from each other and achieve a lot if we work together.’
Speaking on behalf of EIT Health, the director of the consortium in Belgium and the Netherlands, Menno Kok, said the principle challenges in Europe were to promote healthy living, support active ageing and improve health care, and that nutrition played a vital role in this. Koppert CEO, Henri Oosthoek, remarked that a much greater degree of involvement by the medical world was needed for consumers to understand how food impacted on their health.
Koppert’s Corporate Marketing Director, Peter Maes, who spoke on biological control agents in horticulture and agriculture, said microbiological solutions would play a major role in food security and safety in the future and that the prevention of pests and diseases by ensuring soil health and biodiversity was crucial.
At the close of the conference, Director of EIT Health in Belgium and the Netherlands, Menno Kok, said he was encouraged by the enthusiasm and ideas to have come out of the meeting. ‘We now need to collaborate with our EIT partners, form business plans, source the necessary funding and make it happen!’
The next meeting of EIT Food and Health partners is scheduled in Leuven, Belgium, on 26 September 2018.