Meeting Policy Challenges for a Sustainable Bioeconomy

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This publication investigates key aspects surrounding the sustainability of bioeconomy development: the use of biomass as feedstock for future production;  the design and building of biorefineries for the manufacture of a range of fuels, chemicals and materials, and also for electricity generation; and the use of biotechnologies such as synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and gene editing.

Today more than 50 countries have a dedicated bioeconomy strategy or related policies. While the bioeconomy is consistent with sustainability policy (examples are the circular economy, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, green growth, re-industrialisation, rural regeneration, climate change mitigation), synergies must be ensured to avoid over-exploitation of natural resources and conflicting global needs.



Biotechnology and biomass sustainability

This chapter focuses on biotechnology in food production and the future roles of marine biotechnology. Given the extensive discourse on competing uses of biomass in food and industry, this is an important area for policy makers. If land extensification possibilities are limited, and agricultural productivity is declining, the industrial use of biomass would also be limited. Even as other forms of biomass are being sought as biorefinery feedstocks, agricultural productivity and sustainability need to be improved. The yield increase of the so-called green revolution in modern agriculture from the 1950s is flattening out. In addition, agricultural practices with higher inputs, such as pesticides and fertilisers to ensure high yields, are not considered environmentally sustainable. Therefore, the contributions of biotechnology to land extensification and intensification will be crucial in future. In addition, the marine environment remains a virtually untapped resource.


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