Parliamentary Technology Assessment


Bacteriophages in agriculture and food industry

This project conducted on behalf of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) deals with bacteriophages (“phages”). These are viruses that attack bacteria and are therefore considered possible alternatives to antibiotics, pesticides, chemical disinfectants and preservatives in agriculture and food production. The aim is to provide a policy-oriented analysis of the research, development and application of phages as an information base and orientation aid for political mandates and decision-makers. 

Deepfakes and manipulated realities

To have seen something with one’s own eyes was for a long time considered the litmus test for reality and truth. In the age of embellished realities, manipulated photos and videos, however, the question arises whether we still can trust our own eyes. Thanks to image editing software and artificial intelligence, sound, images and videos can now be manipulated in an almost invisible way. Whether it’s reality being reproduced or something artificial being constructed can hardly be discerned anymore. The interdisciplinary study on behalf of TA-SWISS aims to assess the effects of digital manipulation of sound, image and video material as well as deepfakes

Voice, speech and facial recognition

Technologies to recognize human voices, speech and faces are increasingly determining our daily lives – whether for unlocking our mobile phones or for passport checks at airports. The interdisciplinary study on behalf of TA-SWISS aims to identify the opportunities and risks of such technologies and future fields of application. In addition, the project addresses social perception and legal framework conditions. 

The potential of hydrogen for decarbonizing EU industry

In view of the huge potential of electricity generation from renewable energy sources, the production of green hydrogen, i.e., using renewable power to produce hydrogen through water electrolysis, is seen as a promising option for decarbonizing EU industry, especially for those energy-intensive sectors that are difficult to decarbonize. However, this has enormous economic implications for the current stock of production technologies, the energy system, and operating costs. The required infrastructure is an additional aspect that has not yet been clarified. This STOA study takes stock of the current situation with regard to implementing the EU hydrogen strategy, and identifies policy options to fill the gaps in the current policy landscape.

White Biotechnology – current status and perspectives of industrial biotechnology for a sustainable economy 

In “white” or industrial biotechnology, industrial production processes are operated that are based on the metabolism of organisms (usually bacteria or fungi). They catalyze the conversion of the biomass raw material into the respective target product. The use of biomass as a renewable industrial raw material is intended to replace fossil raw materials in the long term and thus to make a contribution to climate protection. Fraunhofer ISI has compiled an overview of the processes, applications and economic perspectives of industrial biotechnology for the Office of Technology Assessment of the German Bundestag (TAB).