EUROPE ON ITS WAY INTO A BIOBASED ECONOMY – PERSPECTIVES FOR PLANT AND AGRORESEACH
New knowledge about plants, animals, microorganisms and insects during the last decades has prompted delibera- tions, primarily from Europe and here by the European Commission, to use systematically and in a systemic way this new knowledge as the basis of a new economic concept, the Bioeconomy. Having originally been a RTD concept, the so-called Knowledge-Based Bioeconomy or KBBE, the Bioeconomy is now regarded to be an economy as such using biological resources from the land and the sea, including waste (biomass) as inputs to food, feed, industrial and energy production. Its aims are twofold: produce sustainably new renewable raw materials in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, and/or process such feedstock into new value-added products in the Food, Feed and Industrial Biobased and Energy industries. The unique features of biological resources, like their carbon neutrality, their renewability, their potential for multiuse, not only reuse and the chances to offer new properties to products, like longer enduribility, better stability, absence of toxicity or minimizing emissions make this new concept also with the help of plants and agroscience very at- tractive to give responses to the many so-called grand challenges. These challenges are ranging from increased demand for high quality food and sustainably food and feed production to overcoming the limited resources of raw materials and energy via a true resource efficiency (“more with less”). Last but not least the biobased economy might contribute to the transition from a fossil based chemical and energy industry into a more biobased oriented industry to successfully act towards climate and other global changes. The impact of such a paradigma change could however also affect many other industrial branches like building and construction, health care, fine chemicals, cosmetics, logistics and generally all so-called process industries. The European Commission has issued in 2012 its first European Strategy for Bioeconomy “Inno-vation for Growth”. More and more member states, like Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, and here Flanders, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Austria, the Nordic Union, etc. have launched powerful national strategies to enter the new biobased world, and most recently France and Spain will soon come out with their own national ones. The two superpowers USA and the Russian Federation have also announced in April 2012 their own programs. Strong regional efforts are also underway in Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and France to create Bioeconomy Regions as models. In Norway, a newly formed Bioeconomy Institute will take up its duties in July 2015. Ten years after its launch in Brussels the Biobased Economy, close to the Principle of sustainability and with so many affiliations to the potentials of the circular Economy, with its unique features of carbon neutrality, potentials for growth, renewability and resources efficiency, but also chances for new innovative products has turned out to become an important factor for our future.