DECEMBER 13, 2013
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About the Author:
Joachim von Braun is an economist, with a Doctoral degree in Agricultural Economics from University of Göttingen, Germany. He joined ZEF as Professor and Director of the Department for Economic and Technological Change in December 2009. He was also Director of ZEF during its foundation phase, 1997–2002. Von Braun was Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) based in Washington, DC, 2002 to 2009. His research addresses international and development economics topics, including markets and trade, poverty, health and nutrition, agriculture, and science and technology. Von Braun was President of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE). He is a member of Academy of Science of North-Rhine Westphalia, German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), Pontifical Academy of Sciences of the Vatican, and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences; he is Vice-President of the NGO “Welthungerhilfe” and Chair of the Bioeconomy Council of the German Federal Government. Among awards received by von Braun are an honorary Doctoral degree from University of Hohenheim, the Bertebos Prize of the Swedish Academy of Agricultural Sciences for his research on food security, and the Justus von Liebig Prize for his research on international nutrition.
Bioeconomy—Science and Technology Policy for Agricultural Development and Food Security
This paper reviews and assesses the fast move by many countries into bioeconomy strategies and related R&D investments as part of science policy innovations. It assesses the driving forces of these developments and the implications for international agricultural change and food security.
The future of humankind will much depend on a secure and safe availability of food, energy, water, and industrial raw material, and these should be more and more based on renewable resources. This puts the bioeconomy—the emerging cross-cutting economic sector that efficiently produces, transforms, and uses bio-based materials and products—at the center of sustainable economic strategies. Designing the bioeconomy has its roots in agriculture and forestry but moves toward a paradigm shift with the concept of inter-linked value chains that encompass many other sectors, and actually forming a new sector in the economy. Driven by factor price changes, technological innovations, and changed preferences, many countries have been re-positioning themselves for the bioeconomy opportunities in the past 5 years: Europe, USA, China, India, Brazil and others are expanding their related R&D systems to tap the bioeconomy potentials. The paper takes a holistic view to identify the synergies between different technologies, creation of new links in and between different value chains (e.g., production of bio-chemicals alongside production of biofuels, use for waste products of other biobased products in chemical and building material industries). Bioeconomy means “biologisation” of the economy as an economy wide and industrial strategy. Accordingly, economy wide assessments and concepts of industrial organization will be used for identification of challenges and opportunities of bioeconomy policies. Technology plays a key role in any bioeconomy strategy.
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