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New publication: The Bio-Economy Concept: Public goods and the farmer's perspective need attention

Through the long and on-going global economic crisis, the European Union (EU) is seeking to restructure its economy to be more stable and competitive. The transition from an industrial to a post-industrial sustainable economy will take more than incremental change to the existing infrastructure. Market and non-market economic incentives are needed to completely transform the supply chain. EU policy seeks to transform an industrial economy based on a linear flow of goods that are mass-produced from non-renewable resources and then disposed to a bio-based economy that is a cradle-to-cradle approach that relies on renewable, recyclable, and recycled raw materials.

Otto Schmid of FiBL, along with Susanne Padel of the Organic Research Centre and Les Levidow of the Open University offer their views of two perspectives necessary for the transformation: one from the public goods that are provided by agriculture and the other from the perspective of farmers who will be the source the raw materials as well as managers of the public goods provided in a bio-based economy.  Public goods are provided at below their optimal rate because they are non-rival and non-exclusive.

For the strategy to succeed, the economic system needs to recognize and somehow compensate for the public goods created by the management of the agro-ecological system. Conversely, a bio-based economy that does not recognize public goods and the farmers’ perspectives faces serious consequences in sustaining production to meet aggregate demand. Incentives need to be given to farmers for them to produce sustainably the biomass and bioenergy needed for the EU to meet its policy objectives. The authors provide specific policy recommendations and call for socio-economic research to move EU policy towards its sustainability goals.

Further information



The Bio-Economy Concept and Knowledge Base in a Public Goods and Farmer Perspective. Schmid, Otto; Padel, Susanne and Levidow, Les (2012) The Bio-Economy Concept and Knowledge Base in a Public Goods and Farmer Perspective. Bio-based and Applied Economics, 1 (1), pp. 47-63.