BIO Deutschland at the first German Bioeconomy Days
BIO Deutschland member biomastec – the network for new technologies for the efficient use of biomass – recently held the first Bioeconomy Days in Frankfurt. The aim of the expert network, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, is to provide market-oriented research and development on innovative technologies, products and services for the use of organic waste. To reinforce the guiding principles of the bioeconomy, around 50 representatives of research and business met at the event to discuss topics such as how to use waste biomass efficiently and sustainably in terms of energy and materials.
During a presentation at the opening event, BIO Deutschland stressed the need for better education on modern biology in schools, given that the bioeconomy could provide potential solutions for the major topics facing humankind, such as food, health, energy, the climate and environmental issues. In 2009, the OECD underlined that biotechnology is a generic technology, as it has clear basic principles that can be used in all of its fields of application. For example, Targeted Growth, Inc. has used cancer research findings to increase the yield of energy crops.
“Every child should be completely familiar with the principles of modern biology, particularly genetics and biotechnology, in order to be properly prepared for the future,” said BIO Deutschland’s Managing Director Viola Bronsema in Frankfurt.
The national comparison commissioned by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany of the educational standards of school pupils in Germany in maths, biology, chemistry and physics recently brought shocking information to light: only four per cent of the pupils in year nine (including grammar-school pupils) who are aiming for at least an intermediate school-leaving qualification have an ideal level of knowledge of biology and only one per cent have an ideal educational level when it comes to biological research. In other words, only one per cent achieves top marks in the subject and is able to follow biological experiments and completely understand what they mean. This figure is four times higher for maths, ten times higher for physics and eleven times higher for chemistry. Unless pupils catch up dramatically in the senior classes, a typical Abitur (university-entrance qualification) year in a school will probably not include a single pupil who is excellent at biology.
The report by the Standing Conference explains the difference in the level of knowledge and skills in the different subjects as follows: “While specialist knowledge involves content-related skills, knowledge acquisition focuses on the scientific methods used to produce biological findings. Pupils should thus not merely learn the major contents of biology, but should also acquire insight into the methods used by scientists to produce these findings.” Against this backdrop, BIO Deutschland sees a need for massive political support for all Länder and school initiatives aimed at teaching pupils about molecular biology experiments, biotechnology and genetic engineering. The association believes that the bioeconomy can only be implemented successfully if the next generation acquires the skills needed to grasp and evaluate the potential of applied biology.