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Economic development has been dominated by different sectors at various times.  The best known of these was the industrial age where mechanisation rapidly replaced manual labour.  More recently information technology, electronics and communication have been major driving forces for growth and development worldwide.  Now, as natural resources like oil, gold, timber and fish become limiting and environmental protection together with sustainable use of resources is becoming more important, the use of renewable biological resources is growing as a new driver of the economy.  This has led us into the start of the ‘bioeconomy’, a period where living organisms will be used to produce new products and to make old processes renewable and therefore, more sustainable.

The bioeconomy is supported by considerable research into living organisms and the processes that can be adapted for daily activities and for the production of innovative new products.  The bioeconomy will drive more sustainable production of biological resources like food, meat, fish, wood, fibre and oils.  It will harness the sun-fuelled growth of plants and microbes to replace energy gobbling industrial processes and to produce bio-materials for the manufacturing industry, constructions, cars, etc.  Microbes are already being used to produce important animal products in a more sustainable and safe way, compared to farming the animals and harvesting the products from carcasses.

This shift to biological processing has initiated a large number of new bio-based companies in the food, agriculture, mining, industry, environment, forestry and fisheries industries.  In time, even computers are likely to be biological and the processes of living cells will help establish nanotechnology applications.  Many farmers have already benefited from biotechnology improvements in seed.  The bioeconomy will lead to continued improvements in the way crops are produced and the will increase the markets for plant material to include medicines, health supplements, biodegradable materials, industrial oils, renewable energy, environmental cleanup products and even more

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