The Bioeconomy to 2030

Designing a Policy Agenda

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The biological sciences are adding value to a host of products and services, producing what some have labelled the “bioeconomy” and offering the potential to make major socio-economic contributions in OECD countries.  Using quantitative analyses of data on development pipelines and R&D expenditures from private and public databases, this book estimates biotechnological developments to 2015. Moving to a broader institutional view, it also looks at the roles of R&D funding, human resources, intellectual property, and regulation in the bioeconomy, as well as at possible developments that could influence emerging business models to create scenarios to 2030. These scenarios are included to stimulate reflection on the interplay between policy choices and technological advances in shaping the bioeconomy. Finally, the book explores policy options to support the social, environmental and economic benefits of a bioeconomy.

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The Bioeconomy to 2015

What types of biotechnology applications are likely to reach the market by 2015? Regulatory requirements in agriculture and health provide data that can be used to estimate the types of genetically modified (GM) plant varieties and health therapies that will be available by then. There are far less data for other biotechnology applications, with estimates based on past trends in scientific discoveries, production, or employment. Based on past trends, GM field trial data, and company reports, it is estimated that by 2015 approximately half of global production of the major food, feed and industrial feedstock crops is likely to come from plant varieties developed using one or more types of biotechnology. These biotechnologies include not only GM but also intragenics, gene shuffling and marker assisted selection. Several novel agronomic and product quality traits will reach the market for a growing number of crops. Biotechnologies, other than GM, will be used to improve livestock for dairy and meat. GM will be increasingly used to develop animal varieties that can produce valuable pharmaceuticals or other compounds in milk. In health, biotechnological knowledge will play a role in the development of all types of therapies. It will no longer be meaningful to separate the pharmaceutical sector from the health biotechnology sector. Pharmacogenetics will develop rapidly, influencing the design of clinical trials and prescribing practices. The value of biochemicals (other than pharmaceuticals) could increase from 1.8% of all chemical production in 2005 to between 12% and 20% by 2015. Biofuel production could partly shift from starch-based bioethanol to higher energy density fuels manufactured from sugar cane or to bioethanol from lignocellulosic feedstock such as grasses and wood. 

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