The Government of Canada invests in innovation to help grow Canada’s bioeconomy
By E. Noroozi (M.Sc. CFS. CRSP)
Manager, Food Science Laboratories
Faculty of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences
Biobased economy, bioeconomy or biotechonomy refers to all economic activity derived from scientific and research activity focused on biotechnology. In other words, understanding mechanisms and processes at the genetic and molecular levels and applying this understanding to creating or improving industrial processes1.
In fact Biobased economy, bioeconomy or biotechonomy refers to all economic activity derived from scientific and research activity focused on biotechnology. In other words, understanding mechanisms and processes at the genetic and molecular levels and applying this understanding to creating or improving industrial processes.
The European Commission defines the bioeconomy as “the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources and waste streams into value added products, such as food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy. Its sectors and industries have strong innovation potential due to their use of a wide range of sciences, enabling and industrial technologies, along with local and tacit knowledge.” Source: “Innovating for Sustainable Growth – A Bioeconomy for Europe” (2012)2.
The transition to a sustainable bio-based economy
The forecasted change in climatic conditions and increasing depletion of fossil fuel sources require the economy to be based preferably on renewable resources. Securing global nutrition also demands an increase in productivity with due regard to protecting resources and the environment. Cutting-edge biological and technological knowledge and methods for both intensive and yet sustainable production, provision and processing of biomass may bring about this change in the industrial resource base and contribute to reducing the burden on the environment and to conserving the earth’s finite resources. Thus the bioeconomy offers a future opportunity to reconcile economic growth with environmentally responsible action.
The transition to a sustainable bio-based economy means that the historically developed structures and ways of life that appear normal today need to be completely rethought. Therefore, it is crucial to align research on a broad basis to the solution of the emerging societal challenges and to increasingly integrate social and economic sciences, as well as cultural and humanities disciplines. This is a prerequisite to tackle the problems facing us as societal challenges and to realise technical innovations as part of social structures and human life2.
The societal transformation towards a bioeconomy raises questions about the ethical foundations as well as the political and institutional framework conditions, in short, the normative resources of such a comprehensive change. How can a change be justified and legitimised in its political implementation that has been established in the interest of future generations, driven by economic needs and at the same time based on fundamental ethical considerations? The normative criterion of acceptability has a much higher impact than the possibly volatile acceptance of specific measures or technologies that can be determined by opinion polls on a case-by-case basis.
Overall, it comes to the question if and how ethical premises, human benefit considerations and the sustainable protection of a modern, industrially driven economy can be reconciled in a bioeconomy in a broadly acceptable way2.
The bioeconomy sector holds tremendous potential for Canada, helping to reduce our carbon footprint while creating opportunities to grow our economy.
The bio-economy can be defined as the economic activity associated with the invention, development, production, and use of products and processes that are based primarily on biological resources3.
On Ffebruary 11, 2019 Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Parliamentary Secretary Jean-Claude Poissant and Member of Parliament, Francis Scarpaleggia, were at the Macdonald Campus at McGill University to announce a federal investment of up to $7 million to the Biomass Cluster under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The Cluster, led by the BioFuelNet Canada Network [Prof. Don Smith, Plant Science Department], will include an additional $3.1 million in contributions from industry, for a total investment of $10.1 million3.
This new research cluster will drive innovation and help improve technologies for processing agricultural biomass, including waste material, which can then be used as a renewable and sustainable starting material for production of cleaner bioenergy, and other bio-based products. The cluster will focus on three key areas of research including:
- Advanced technologies to boost biomass production;
- Using biomass heat and energy to extend the greenhouse growing season in Northern Canada; and
- Reducing production costs and expanding export markets for biomass.
As part of the research cluster, McGill University will receive up to $888,061 in funding for a project that will focus on the development of biological inputs that will enhance the growth of biomass crops including switchgrass.
Canadian Government support innovation that will help position Canada’s agricultural sector as a leader in the production of bioenergy and other bioproducts. This investment in biomass research will help farmers manage agricultural waste, reduce energy costs and environmental impacts, while creating new market opportunities for Canadian bioenergy.4“
– Lawrence MacAulay , Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food .
“The agricultural sector has a key role to play in the full development of Canada’s bioeconomy and the associated decrease in the carbon footprint of the energy and materials that we consume and export. The potential payback of a thriving agro-bioeconomy to Canada is enormous in that it will cause meaningful reductions in Canadian greenhouse gas emissions and create new wealth and employment in the agricultural sector. The Biomass Canada cluster is focused on research that will help make this happen.” Dr. Donald L. Smith, CEO, BioFuelNet Canada4.
- Biomass is produced from biological waste material from plants or animals that can be used as a renewable and sustainable source of clean energy.
- Significant volumes of waste materials, ranging from livestock manure to food processing waste to food waste, are converted into biogas each year.
- The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector. The Partnership includes programs and activities to enhance the competitiveness of the sector through research, science and innovation.
- This research cluster is funded through the Agri- Science Program, a five-year, $338 million initiative, to support leading edge discovery and applied science, and innovation driven by industry research priorities.