University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 056/2023 - 4 May 2023
Innovations in feed law: Simon Nüssel Foundation supports research project at the University of Bayreuth
Redesigning the production of animal foods is at the heart of a transformation of food systems aimed at sustainability. The changes required for this also affect the legal framework for animal feeding. The Simon Nüssel Foundation has therefore recently begun funding a new research project at the University of Bayreuth on innovations in German and European feed law. The project is headed by Prof. Dr. Kai Purnhagen, Chair of Food Law at the University of Bayreuth’s campus in Kulmbach.
Over 70 percent of agricultural land in the EU is currently used for the cultivation of animal feed. In addition, there is the import of animal feed, the production of which contributes significantly to the decline of tropical forests. In addition, up to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are directly attributable to animal production. Reducing this environmental footprint will require not only a significant reduction in the consumption of animal-based foods worldwide, but also more sustainable feeding practices. Possible solutions include alternative sources of protein, such as insects, algae or waste, but also new feed additives that, for example, drastically reduce methane emissions from cattle.
How such innovations can be promoted in German and European law is the central topic of the new research project at the Kulmbach site of the University of Bayreuth. The Chair of Food Law is working closely with companies in the feed industry to jointly explore the practical aspects of new legal regulations. "Our work at the interdisciplinary campus in Kulmbach and at the Research Center for German and European Food Law concerns innovations at all levels of the food system. In this context, feed law is an often overlooked but decisive adjusting screw," says Prof. Dr. Kai Purnhagen, who is Chair of Food Law and Director of the FLMR Research Unit at the University of Bayreuth.
The research project focuses on two topics, which are being led by Alexandra Molitorisová and Dr. Tilman Reinhardt. The first is an analysis and further development of the so-called experimentation clause in the EU's feed additive regulation. "Experimentation clauses – they are also called 'regulatory sandboxes' – are core elements of innovation-friendly regulations. The experimentation clause for feed additives is therefore a positive approach. However, it is handled very differently by the individual EU member states and even within Germany by the individual federal states. This confusion is exacerbated by the fact that information on experimental authorizations is hardly ever made publicly available. Therefore, we want to develop proposals on how the potential of experimentation clauses can be exploited comprehensively in the future and in a way that is transparent for the European public," explains Alexandra Molitorisová, PhD student and research associate at the Chair of Food Law.
The second focus of the project is an innovation system analysis of European feed law. "Innovation system research models strengthen the holistic view of innovative technologies and practices. They include all factors that contribute to the diffusion of innovations, such as knowledge production, entrepreneurial experimentation, investment mobilization, or the legitimacy of innovations in the eyes of all stakeholders. This allows for a much more differentiated assessment of legal instruments. Often, it is not just a question of whether a particular procedure is permissible or not. Clear approval requirements or prohibitions sometimes provide a better breeding ground for innovations than legal gray areas," says Dr. Tilman Reinhardt, Senior Research Associate at the Chair of Food Law.
On research funding:
The Simon Nüssel Foundation was initiated in 2000 by former Bavarian Minister of Agriculture Simon Nüssel and supports research projects in the fields of nutrition and agriculture. A special focus is on the region of Upper Franconia.