Interview with the coordinator of the BioValue project Prof Konstadinos Mattas
What is the BioValue project?
BioValue is an EU-funded project within the framework of Horizon 2020 involving seventeen partners throughout Europe and beyond, aiming at improving agro-biodiversity and diversity throughout the food chain. Crop biodiversity, the cultivation of multiple crops at the farm level is an element of agricultural biodiversity, and creates differentiations in soil fauna, weeds, pests, and predators at the farm level and the agro-ecosystem. However, crop diversification over the last decades declined due to several driving forces across the food chain (processing technologies, cost impact) as well as consumers’ food preferences.
Could you explain the project benefits for European citizens?
Well, the great news from the COP26 summit in Glasgow points out that global leaders understand the severity of climate change and the need to protect the environment. However, the real power is in the hands of the consumers. Literally! Don’t wait until 2030 or 2050 to save the environment. Start now!Pick up your fork, change your diet, start eating “diverse” meals, and improve your health and save the environment. The BioValue project will provide all scientific knowledge and documentation to make food and meals more diverse, nutritious, healthy, and why not, delicious. Through a knock-on effect, consumers’ dietary habits are streamed down to farmers who will turn the European farming lands into a diverse and sustainable agro-ecosystem.
How can all these benefits be achieved?
The project will offer guidelines on nutritional values of diversified dishes, meals and novel food products. In addition, new underutilized crops could be re-introduced into European farming by using machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence forecasts. These new entrants among others could be integrated into agro-ecosystems, the food chain and of course the European diet. Our ultimate vision within this project is to generate recurring and spreading effects such as landscape transformation, diverse food supply chains and mainly “diverse” food dishes. The whole look of the European plains will start changing from oligo-cultural systems to poly-cultural ones with unprecedented benefits for the environment and consumers’ health.
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