Special Issue "Accelerating Bioeconomy Growth through Applied Research and Policy Change"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 January 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Justus H.H. Wesseler
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Economics, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: biotechnology; economics; genomics; policy; regulation; sustainability
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. David Zilberman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA
Interests: marketing; biotechnology; water; risk management; biofuels; natural resources; agricultural and environmental policy; the economics of innovation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Global economic growth is slowing, and several economies are suffering from recession, unemployment, and/or environmental destruction challenging sustainable development. These developments are reinforced by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Developments in biology are expected to allow for technical change addressing many of these challenges. Reaching these expectations will require an institutional and policy environment supporting investments and technical change. This Special Issue examines the possible contributions of the bioeconomy to economic growth, employment, and the environment and addresses how institutions and policies can support these contributions.

We invite contributions to the Special Issue addressing one or more of the following topics.

  1. Impacts of the bioeconomy and specific industries and technologies that make up the bioeconomy in the economy, rural development, poverty, and consumers. Technologies of special interest include:
    1. Applied microbiology: gene editing, new breeding techniques, synthetic biology, digital sequence information, marker-assisted breeding, gene drives;
    2. Biofuels;
    3. Biorefineries and biomaterials;
    4. Bioinputs (microbial, seeds and other biological inputs for agroindustry)’
    5. Plant-based milk, meats and feeds;
    6. Digital agriculture, precision agriculture.
  1. The environment, resources and bioeconomy:
    1. Bioeconomy, carbon economy, circular economy;
    2. Impact of bioeconomy on climate change/extreme weather/biotic and abiotic risks/desertification;
    3. Water scarcity, irrigation;
    4. Biodiversity;
    5. Biological control.
  1. Impact of public (regional, national, and international) and private research on innovation and bioeconomy growth:
    1. Public and private sector research investments;
    2. Patent developments and patent policies;
    3. Public-private partnerships;
    4. Bioeconomy R&D and economic growth.
  1. Institutions, policies, and regulations to encourage innovation, adoption, poverty reduction:
    1. Institutional change supporting innovations;
    2. Health and biosafety regulations;
    3. Intellectual property rights;
    4. Trade of technology and commodities and direct foreign investment;
    5. Consumer choices, preferences, and labeling policies.

In all topics, research may cover, inter alia, case studies as well as more analytical studies of successful and failed bioeconomy research, bioeconomy projects, and policies that allow deriving lessons for policymakers and innovators. Those lessons learned should be explicitly addressed in the contributions.

Prof. Dr. Justus H.H. Wesseler
Prof. Dr. David Zilberman
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Bioeconomy policies
  • Economic growth
  • Institutional change
  • Investment
  • Research and development
  • Technical change

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Article
A Cross-Country Measurement of the EU Bioeconomy: An Input–Output Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3033; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063033 - 10 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1141
Abstract
This paper measures the development of the national income share of the bioeconomy for 28 European Union Member States (MS) and 16 industries of BioMonitor scope from 2005 to 2015. The paper proposes a model which includes the up- and downstream linkages using [...] Read more.
This paper measures the development of the national income share of the bioeconomy for 28 European Union Member States (MS) and 16 industries of BioMonitor scope from 2005 to 2015. The paper proposes a model which includes the up- and downstream linkages using Input-Output tables. The results show that for the majority of the MS the value added of the up- and downstream sector is at the band of 40%–50% of the total bioeconomy value added and has on average increased since the financial crisis. Full article
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Article
Measuring the Contribution of the Bioeconomy: The Case of Colombia and Antioquia
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2353; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042353 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 732
Abstract
This paper proposes a set of five indicators to monitor the bioeconomy in Colombia and Antioquia, one of the main regions of the country. The proposed indicators encompass the dimensions of sustainability and emphasize the role of knowledge and scientific research as driving [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a set of five indicators to monitor the bioeconomy in Colombia and Antioquia, one of the main regions of the country. The proposed indicators encompass the dimensions of sustainability and emphasize the role of knowledge and scientific research as driving forces of the bioeconomy strategies. To estimate the contribution of the bioeconomy to value added, employment, and greenhouse gas emissions, an input–output analysis is carried out. In addition, text mining analysis techniques are implemented to identify the research groups with an agenda related to bioeconomy fields. Our results reveal an important slot to foster the growth of a sustainable bioeconomy that enables local economies to achieve inclusive growth. Full article
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Article
Circular Bioeconomy Research for Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Innovations, Gaps, and Actions
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1926; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041926 - 11 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 799
Abstract
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has applied the concept of ‘circular bioeconomy’ to design solutions to address the degradation of natural resources, nutrient-depleted farming systems, hunger, and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Over the past decade, IITA has implemented ten circular [...] Read more.
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has applied the concept of ‘circular bioeconomy’ to design solutions to address the degradation of natural resources, nutrient-depleted farming systems, hunger, and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Over the past decade, IITA has implemented ten circular bioeconomy focused research for development (R4D) interventions in several countries in the region. This article aims to assess the contributions of IITA’s circular bioeconomy focused innovations towards economic, social, and environmental outcomes using the outcome tracking approach, and identify areas for strengthening existing circular bioeconomy R4D interventions using the gap analysis method. Data used for the study came from secondary sources available in the public domain. Results indicate that IITA’s circular bioeconomy interventions led to ten technological innovations (bio-products) that translated into five economic, social, and environmental outcomes, including crop productivity, food security, resource use efficiency, job creation, and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Our gap analysis identified eight gaps leading to a portfolio of five actions needed to enhance the role of circular bioeconomy in SSA. The results showcase the utility of integrating a circular bioeconomy approach in R4D work, especially how using such an approach can lead to significant economic, social, and environmental outcomes. The evidence presented can help inform the development of a framework to guide circular bioeconomy R4D at IITA and other research institutes working in SSA. Generating a body of evidence on what works, including the institutional factors that create enabling environments for circular bioeconomy approaches to thrive, is necessary for governments and donors to support circular bioeconomy research that will help solve some of the most pressing challenges in SSA as populations grow and generate more waste, thus exacerbating a changing climate using the linear economy model. Full article
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Article
Understanding the U.S. Bioeconomy: A New Definition and Landscape
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1627; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041627 - 03 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 730
Abstract
This article provides an overview of the U.S. bioeconomy, discussing how its definition has evolved and been formalized over time. The first attempts to conceptualize and define the U.S. bioeconomy began in the early 1990s. This was followed by a series of government [...] Read more.
This article provides an overview of the U.S. bioeconomy, discussing how its definition has evolved and been formalized over time. The first attempts to conceptualize and define the U.S. bioeconomy began in the early 1990s. This was followed by a series of government and private efforts to develop methods to understand and evaluate it and to develop programs to promote it. These efforts culminated in the 2020 release of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), Safeguarding the Bioeconomy report. The report recommended a formal definition of the U.S. bioeconomy, providing the rationale for that particular definition in the U.S. context. Formally adopting a comprehensive definition of the U.S. bioeconomy would enable the U.S. government to better assess the bioeconomy’s current state, to develop strategies to support its growth, and to promote strategies to safeguard it. Along with this recommendation, the NASEM Safeguarding report also discussed defining the “bioeconomy landscape,” which involves more precise determination and quantification of which economic activities are part of and external to the U.S. economy. Defining this landscape could guide metric development and data collection needed to track the bioeconomy’s growth, conduct economic assessments, and enable policy makers to keep abreast of advances that could potentially pose new national or economic security challenges. The report also includes an analysis of the broad range national bioeconomy strategies, identification of the four drivers of the U.S. bioeconomy, and the first of its kind, comprehensive estimate of the size and scope of the U.S. bioeconomy of USD 959B (valued in 2016 constant USD ). Full article
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Article
Housefly Maggot Meal as a Potent Bioresource for Fish Feed to Facilitate Early Gonadal Development in Clarias gariepinus (Burchell,1822)
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 921; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020921 - 18 Jan 2021
Viewed by 423
Abstract
Food security is threatened by the global increase of human population, climate change, inequality of wealth distribution, the state of natural resources, peace and sustainability, among others. Aquaculture has become an important part of the food supply, hence contributing to food security. Sustainable [...] Read more.
Food security is threatened by the global increase of human population, climate change, inequality of wealth distribution, the state of natural resources, peace and sustainability, among others. Aquaculture has become an important part of the food supply, hence contributing to food security. Sustainable fish production, which represents an important affordable protein supply, should therefore involve feed formulation and production techniques that are not dependent on fish meal as the protein source. It is on this basis that bioeconomy becomes very important to promote the resourceful use of biomass for feed, food, biomaterials, and bioenergy. This study presents housefly maggot meal as an efficient alternative protein source to fishmeal and a valuable bioresource. Clarias gariepinus fingerlings (male and female) were fed maggot meal supplemented diets for 24 weeks and we assessed their growth and gonadal development. The findings of this study revealed that maggot-meal-enhanced diets promoted growth and faster gonadal development in fish. Maggot meal represents a quality alternative protein source to fish meal and an excellent bioresource, which can help us attain sustainable aquaculture production. Full article
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Article
Will Transaction Costs and Economies of Scale Tip the Balance in Farm Size in Industrial Agriculture? An Illustration for Non-Food Biomass Production in Germany
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 733; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020733 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 792
Abstract
The study investigates how the agricultural sector can respond to a growing non-food biomass demand. Taking Germany as an example, a stylized case of biomass production under conditions of technological advance and constantly growing demand is modelled. It is argued that biomass producers [...] Read more.
The study investigates how the agricultural sector can respond to a growing non-food biomass demand. Taking Germany as an example, a stylized case of biomass production under conditions of technological advance and constantly growing demand is modelled. It is argued that biomass producers might seek to adjust their farm size by simultaneously optimizing benefits from the production scale and transaction cost savings, where transaction costs are measured using Data Envelopment Analysis. The results extend the debate on transaction costs and structural change in agriculture by revealing a possible synergy and trade-off between transaction cost savings and benefits from (dis)economies of scale. They show that if larger farms cannot economize on transaction costs, then investments in land and labor, needed to adjust to higher biomass demand, partly compromise the returns to scale, which decelerates the farm size growth. A higher degree of asset specificity gives rise to transaction costs and reduces the rate at which the farm size decreases. Smaller producers may disproportionally benefit from their higher potential of transaction cost savings, if advanced technologies can offset the scale advantage of larger farms. The findings inform policymakers to consider this complex effect when comparing the opportunities of smaller and larger agricultural producers in the bioeconomy. Full article
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Article
Understanding Farm-Level Incentives within the Bioeconomy Framework: Prices, Product Quality, Losses, and Bio-Based Alternatives
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 450; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020450 - 06 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 562
Abstract
The bioeconomy framework emphasizes potential contributions of life sciences to novel, bio-based products and to discover economic uses for what would otherwise be considered waste or loss in traditional production systems. To best exploit this perspective, especially for biowaste innovations, economists should develop [...] Read more.
The bioeconomy framework emphasizes potential contributions of life sciences to novel, bio-based products and to discover economic uses for what would otherwise be considered waste or loss in traditional production systems. To best exploit this perspective, especially for biowaste innovations, economists should develop behavioral models that integrate decision-making with biophysical concepts. The supply to bioeconomy uses of farm production otherwise lost depends on the relative net benefits of adjusting production across a range of quality levels. Without understanding such incentives, one cannot fully anticipate the effects on prices and consumer welfare due to new alternatives. The analysis here examines farm-level incentives that determine quality, sales and loss levels, and possible switching of supplies to alternative uses. We present a farmer decision model of the distribution of product qualities, total losses, and the adoption of alternative profitable activities, such as for antioxidants or other novel bioproducts. We demonstrate how the introduction of bio-based alternatives changes opportunity costs of resource use, altering product quality proportions and sales to traditional markets. Adopting biowaste alternatives depends on scale, productivity, and fixed costs; adopting these reduces the proportion of production going to traditional buyers/consumers and shifts downward the distribution of traditional product (e.g., food-grade) qualities. Full article
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Article
Development of the Circular Bioeconomy: Drivers and Indicators
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010413 - 05 Jan 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2946
Abstract
The EU’s 2018 Bioeconomy Strategy Update and the European Green Deal recently confirmed that the bioeconomy is high on the political agenda in Europe. Here, we propose a conceptual analysis framework for quantifying and analyzing the development of the EU bioeconomy. The bioeconomy [...] Read more.
The EU’s 2018 Bioeconomy Strategy Update and the European Green Deal recently confirmed that the bioeconomy is high on the political agenda in Europe. Here, we propose a conceptual analysis framework for quantifying and analyzing the development of the EU bioeconomy. The bioeconomy has several related concepts (e.g., bio-based economy, green economy, and circular economy) and there are clear synergies between these concepts, especially between the bioeconomy and circular economy concepts. Analyzing the driving factors provides important information for monitoring activities. We first derive the scope of the bioeconomy framework in terms of bioeconomy sectors and products to be involved, the needed geographical coverage and resolution, and time period. Furthermore, we outline a set of indicators linked to the objectives of the EU’s bioeconomy strategy. In our framework, measuring developments will, in particular, focus on the bio-based sectors within the bioeconomy as biomass and food production is already monitored. The selected indicators commit to the EU Bioeconomy Strategy objectives and conform with findings from previous studies and stakeholder consultation. Additionally, several new indicators have been suggested and they are related to measuring the impact of changes in supply, demand drivers, resource availability, and policies on sustainability goals. Full article
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Article
Forensics at the Port: Can Diagnostic Testing Benefit Trade?
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010106 - 24 Dec 2020
Viewed by 469
Abstract
A growing pool of genomic knowledge and remarkable reductions in the cost of genetic sequencing is revolutionizing the identification of plant pathogens and phytosanitary risks. This article examines available technologies of plant testing for genetics, residues, and contamination that can be imposed at [...] Read more.
A growing pool of genomic knowledge and remarkable reductions in the cost of genetic sequencing is revolutionizing the identification of plant pathogens and phytosanitary risks. This article examines available technologies of plant testing for genetics, residues, and contamination that can be imposed at port locations for the trade of bulk commodity crops. Access and deployment of lower-cost detection technologies could fundamentally change phytosanitary practices with potential consequences for agricultural trade. Investment in testing for the presence of transgenic dockage or plant and soil diseases will likely decrease time and arbitration costs. Implementation of diagnostics testing could not only protect the exporters’ position, but it could also lead to future implications of trusted trade or higher standards of phytosanitary policy. The lack of rigorous export testing creates the opportunity for trade protectionist countries to claim that commodity imports fail to meet import standards, which can either lower the price or result in shipment rejection. The failure of commodity shipments to comply with import thresholds is a regular occurrence, yet resolutions are achieved that do not disrupt international trade. This rise in the ability to accurately test for pathogen detection provides the opportunity for safer commodity trade, but also the rise in protectionism. Full article
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Article
Plant-Based Sustainable Development—The Expansion and Anatomy of the Medicinal Plant Secondary Processing Sector in Nepal
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5575; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145575 - 10 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 818
Abstract
There is an increasing global demand for medicinal plants. Nevertheless, the nature and scale of processing in national-level medicinal plant production networks, and how this can contribute to sustainable development, are poorly understood. This study (i) uncovers and explains the emergence of the [...] Read more.
There is an increasing global demand for medicinal plants. Nevertheless, the nature and scale of processing in national-level medicinal plant production networks, and how this can contribute to sustainable development, are poorly understood. This study (i) uncovers and explains the emergence of the Nepalese medicinal plant secondary processing sector, (ii) characterises the enterprises and identify the obstacles they face, (iii) quantifies the volumes and values of processed species and end markets, and (iv) discusses the potential to contribute to sustainable economic development. Empirical data were generated from key informant interviews and qualitative (n = 13) and quantitative (n = 79) semi-structured surveys of medicinal plant processing enterprises. In 2014–15, the sector purchased 3679 metric tonnes of air-dry raw materials (across 67 products) for USD 4.0 million, producing 494 tonnes of end-products valued at USD 11.2 million. The sector is characterised by small enterprises. Rising domestic demand drove the increase in the number of enterprises. Key business obstacles were export barriers, low access to technology, infrastructure and service barriers, labour challenges, socio-economic and political instability, and the inefficient bureaucracy. The actions required to change from being a supplier of raw materials and producer of lower-value domestic consumer products to integrating into the global economy as an exporter of higher-value products that are sustainably sourced are discussed. Full article
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Perspective
New Plant Breeding Technologies: An Assessment of the Political Economy of the Regulatory Environment and Implications for Sustainability
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3687; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073687 - 26 Mar 2021
Viewed by 715
Abstract
This perspective discusses the impact of political economy on the regulation of modern biotechnology. Modern biotechnology has contributed to sustainable development, but its potential has been underexplored and underutilized. We highlight the importance of the impacts of regulations for investments in modern biotechnology [...] Read more.
This perspective discusses the impact of political economy on the regulation of modern biotechnology. Modern biotechnology has contributed to sustainable development, but its potential has been underexplored and underutilized. We highlight the importance of the impacts of regulations for investments in modern biotechnology and argue that improvements are possible via international harmonization of approval processes. This development is urgently needed for improving sustainable development. Policy makers in the European Union (EU) in particular are challenged to rethink their approach to regulating modern biotechnology as their decisions have far ranging consequences beyond the boundaries of the EU and they have the power to influence international policies. Full article
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