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Minister Coughlan launches Agri-Food Theme of EU 7th Framework Programme on Research and Technological Development

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today launched the agri-food theme of the EU 7th Framework Programme on Research and Technological Development at the National Food Research Centre in Ashtown, Dublin. The agri-food theme deals with Agriculture, Fisheries and Biotechnology.

Speaking at the launch the Minister outlined her commitment to research in this important indigenous sector.

"My Department's public good competitive programmes along with the stated goals of Agri-Vision 2015 are consistent with the Government's Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation. The SSTI presents a very clear vision for Irish research and emphasises the importance of research funding. A key component of meeting the stated goals in the Strategy is participation in the EU Framework Programme."

Minister Coughlan pointed to a number of reasons for optimism from an Irish perspective heading into the new programme. These included the impressive performance of Irish researchers in the 6th Framework Programme (FP6) and the broadening of the thematic area to now include sustainable Agriculture and Fisheries research, both traditional strengths in Ireland. The success of Irish Researchers in FP6 was marked by the Minister when she launched an integrated project on beef research co-ordinated by Declan Troy of Teagasc Ashtown involving 41 participating countries.

Minister Coughlan identified the importance of encouraging and supporting early stage researchers as an integral part of the Government's Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation.

During the Minister's visit to the Food Centre, she officially opened the Food Industry Training and Conference Centre at Ashtown. The Centre will provide specialist technical training for the food sector. Training is an integral component of the Teagasc's goal to support the food sector in achieving Competitiveness, Innovation, Safety and Quality in food.

"The Centre will play a very important, practical role in bringing the latest research results to use at industry level. It will act to inform users of the most up-to-date standards and will lead to improvements in best practice that will serve to further raise the standard at production level and as a result enhance our reputation as Ireland - The Food Island."

The Minister concluded by acknowledging the success of Ashtown Researcher Jenny Hayes in winning the International Meat Secretariat award for Meat Science and Technology.

7 March, 2007

Date Released: 07 March 2007