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Beyond Food: Animals and the Bioeconomy


In the bioeconomy, we are well-used to processes involving plants. In the overwhelming majority of cases, plants are the source of biomass from which biobased products are derived, and it is plant biomass that is processed and burned to produce bioenergy. Thus, rightly so, plants get the bulk of the attention, but animals also have important roles to play in the bioeconomy, if at a lesser scale. The obvious difference is an ethical one: there is no concept of plant welfare (although this does manifest itself in a way, through forestry management, and farmers seeking to find the optimal growing conditions for crops), and it is welfare concerns that see animals rarely involved in modern industrial processes. However, this does not preclude animals from involvement in the bioeconomy, and indeed, an increasing number of bioeconomy processes and products are starting to take inspiration from animals: biomimetics is a field dedicated to imitating nature in industry, taking advantage of the millions of years of evolution that have produced efficient processes. The bioeconomy is no different in the way it can benefit from such an approach

Document author: Bob Horton
Institution: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
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