Capturing the potential of gene editing for a sustainable bioeconomy

Project Details


Main research question/goal

New Genomic techniques (NGTs) can facilitate the development of energy-efficient, low-input, and zero-pollution agriculture and inductrial processing of raw materials. However, this innovation potential is in Europe hampered by regulatory uncertainty and challenges related to screening, monitoring, and social impacts. Therefore, the project GeneBEcon will advance the potential of NGTs for biobased products by applying these techniques in potato and microalgae to be used as case studies to evaluate the benefits and risks of NGTs en NGT-derived products and their consequences for human and environment across the chain from laboratory to field and industrial processing of biobased feedstock.

Research approach

GeneBEcon will apply a systems thinking approach and system mapping workshops to create a collective understanding of two production systems, potato and microalgae. All elements of the production systems and positive and negative feedback loops that exist within the systems will be identified. Five tentative governance options for regulation will be taken into account for risk assessment evaluations and economic impact assessment. Technical case studies will be used to answer the questions raised during the systems thinking and systems mapping. The technical application of NGTs will be assessed by performing CRISPR/Cas in potato to create a resistant potato with higher starch content for industrial use and in microalgae to generate higher content in mycosporin amino acids (MAAs). Residual microalgae biomass, after extraction of MAAs, will be repurposed in poultry feed.


This project seeks to contribute to the objective clarification of the potential of NGTs for bio-based products. GeneBEcon is built on a multi-sectorial consortium and the project links to all relevant stakeholder groups are embedded in the project. The societal objectives related to the regulatory framework, the economic incentives to innovate, the social perceptions and the societal engagements, together with the R&I objectives related to the technical advancements, will ensure an improved understanding and awareness of the benefits and risks of NGTs and NGT-derived products. It is possible that over time NGTs will thus be better (and safely) utilized for important societal drivers in the broader bioeconomy. 

Funding provider(s)
EU Horizon Europe

External partner(s)
BVL - Bundesamt fur Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit
Danish Technological Institute - DTI
FN3PT - Federation Nationale des Producteurs de Plants de Pomme de Terre
HZPC Research BV
INRAE Institut national de recherche pour l'agriculture, l'alementation et l'environnement
INVE Technologies
Latvijas Universitate
PlantETP - European Technology Plantform 'Plants for the Future'
Slovak University of agriculture in Nitra - SUA
SLU - Swedisch University of Agricultural Sciences
SolEdits AB
SPI - Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovacao Consultadoria Empresarial e Fomento da Inovacao SA
Universitat Bayreuth - UB
Wageningen UR
WBF - Eidgenoessisches Department fuer Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung
XPRO Consulting Limited
Effective start/end date1/09/2231/08/25

Flemish Discipline list

  • Algae biotechnology
  • Agricultural animal nutrition
  • Biotechnology for agricultural, forestry, fisheries and allied sciences not elsewhere classified
  • Agricultural plant breeding and biotechnology

Data Management Plan flag for FRIS

  • DMP present


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