Biomass may be used for the production of food, animal feed, energy and non-food products, such as fibres, plastics, paper and pulp. A coherent public policy on the part of the EU, the various national ministries and international institutions is needed to promote development towards a bio-based economy.
The bio-based economy affects multiple sectors and players, which means that issues must be approached in an integrated manner.
These issues include the following:
- Import levies have been introduced under agricultural policy to protect the primary agricultural sector, but may prevent the development of green chemistry.
- Is there a relationship between biofuel, food security and biodiversity, and, if so, in which direction is this going?
- Should we carry on subsidising bioenergy while the scarce raw materials also have more lucrative applications?
- How can we monitor the transition to a bio-based economy as this cannot be distinguished in the standard national and international statistics?
Development of the bio-based economy
Often, however, current national or international policy hinders the further development of the bio-based economy. Examples are the different rules governing the national or international supply of biomass and industrial raw materials and the legislation relating to residual flows. The latter are highly suitable as raw material for bio-based products, but are rapidly regarded as waste under current legislation. The question is whether this policy can and should be altered.
Economic and macroeconomic impact assessments and market research
Wageningen Economic Research provides, among other things, economic and macroeconomic impact assessments and market research to underpin strategic decisions by regional, national and international authorities. These insights are based on a strong combination of data, models, sector expertise, economic expertise and a relevant national and international network. In addition, the indirect effects on food security (food prices, income), climate change (greenhouse gas emissions) and management of natural resources (land use, biodiversity) are quantified at macro level. These data can also support strategic decisions by national and international enterprises.