Meeting Policy Challenges for a Sustainable Bioeconomy

image of Meeting Policy Challenges for a Sustainable Bioeconomy

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.



Metabolic engineering and synthetic biology for a bioeconomy

Metabolic engineering and synthetic biology are the core platform technologies relevant to “replacing the oil barrel”. As it stands, both technologies have proven successful in basic science and in laboratory-scale applications. Their translation into bioeconomy products to date has been limited, however, often for technical reasons. This chapter identifies some of the successes, but also highlights the areas where governments could fund pre-competitive and near-market research to increase the rate of success in commercialisation. A bioeconomy presents a large conundrum, creating competition for biomass between food and industrial production. The chapter also examines the biotechnology of industrial production of bio-based materials. Ethanol, while important, is not a specific focus. A recurring theme is the need for systems integration of computational and experimental approaches, a key message for policy makers.


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