The report on research, experimental development and knowledge transfer activities of AGES, in short, research report is produced annually.
Due to the legal mandate and the extensive task spectrum, AGES is obliged to carry out applied research and to convey relevant scientific knowledge about its knowledge transfer activities to a broad public. With the AGES, highly qualified experts and staff are available to the Austrians who carry out ongoing research activities, represent Austria in the national committees and those of the EU, and perform their work conscientiously according to the legal requirements.
At the end of the year 2016, a total of 1,398 persons were employed in AGES. This corresponds to 1,277 full-time employees. Approximately 58 full-time employees worked in Research & Development, as well as in knowledge transfer. The scientific staff included 654 university graduates in 2016, 281 with doctorates and 13 with professorship qualifications.
The agency is the risk assessment facility for the reduction and prevention of risks along the food chain in Austria. The scientific expertise of AGES includes analytics, diagnostics, expert reviews and R&D. More than 80 reference laboratories and centres, as well as two L3 laboratories, one L3+ laboratory, test stations in four climatic regions and two research glasshouses are available to its experts.
AGES´s revenues for R&D and knowledge transfer activities amounted to € 1.8 m in 2016. R&D and knowledge transfer expenses totaled around € 11.8 m. A total of 66 R&D and knowledge transfer projects were completed in 2016; 78 projects were in progress. 35 project activities, such as FEM-tech internships for female students or pupils or training projects for the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) or the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences (Iran) were carried out as part of these knowledge transfer projects. In 2016, 43 events were held in the promising framework of the “BMLFUW‘s Austrian Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020“.
In 2016, most of the research activities were conducted in the Objective 7 “Food security and ensuring sustainable environmentally sound agricultural production”. A total of 36 R&D projects, which were in the process of being completed or completed, were assigned to this objective. Eighteen R&D projects deal with topics from the Objective 4 “Freedom from animal diseases”. A total of 10 projects are included in the Objective 1 “Improving the situation of transferable diseases in humans” and deal with public health issues.
R&D highlights in the year 2016 included the inital discovery of the “mrc-1 gene” in E. coli in food and in a patient in Austria, the honouring of the AGES Tea Bag Index project with the Citizen Science Award 2016, the event on the 4th May, 2016 at the Ministry of Health, with Dr. Sabine Oberhauser (†) on “Insects as a source of protein for the future?”, the “Boden macht Schule” workshop for schools, the visit of the WHO Summer School at AGES, the 7th “Long Night of Research” under the banner of radiation protection, the AGES business unit “Animal Health” as a promoter of young research teams and the award for the coordination of a multimodular training programme for the European Food Authority EFSA on the topic of risk assessment.
This report also presents individual projects on R&D and knowledge transfer or scientific studies in brief results reports. These come from the fields of food security, food safety, animal health, public health, medical market supervision, radiation protection and data, statistics and integrative risk assessment.
In eight project modules, the project “future of the bee” examines the causes of population and bee losses in Austria, both with applied research and with the help of basic research. In the “Efficiency of commercial preparations of organic acids for the elimination of naturally occurring Salmonella in feed” an effective decontamination of Salmonella contaminated feed samples was investigated. The project SPICE shows how important it is to protect spices and herbs in the processing chain against intentional, accidental or natural biological and chemical contamination.
An early detection of the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) in the PRRSV sequencing project is as important as limiting the spread of infectious diseases shown in the investigation of the long-term excretion of Schmallenberg virus genome in the semen of a breeding bull.
A successful cooperation between the two business areas of public health and animal health shows the establishment and validation of a PCR method for the identification of salmonella in pre-enrichment. The first results of the VAC2VAC project-activities for the reduction, improvement and replacement of animal experiments in pharmaceutical quality control increase confidence that such efficacy tests can also be developed without animal experiments.
Environmental catastrophes in Chernobyl and Fukushima and their aftermath (the cesium 137 burden of wild meat in Austria and fish from the Pacific) affect consumers in daily life as well as a European initiative for the prevention of nutrition-associated diseases, the increase of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents by 2020, which is investigated by AGES.