Stuart Smyth
University of Saskatchewan
Anwar Naseem
Rutgers University

The application of biotechnology and novel bioprocesses has proven itself to be an effective solution to the many challenges facing the agriculture, environment, and energy sectors. From genetically modified (GM) crops that increase yields and lower pesticide use to biofuels that meet energy needs with renewable resources, the new bioeconomy has resulted in considerable welfare improvement. In spite of this, modern bio-based techniques and production systems has its critics— many of whom view them as being unsustainable and incompatible with traditional production methods, among other sins. At issue is whether sustainable ecosystems security is possible through the development of bio‐based resources and processes, and, if so, how might it be achieved? What are the implications of, and relationship between, environmental sustainability and agricultural production that is increasingly reliant on biotechnology? What are the policy, governance, and regulatory challenges and opportunities that would harness the potential of biotechnology for greater production but in an increasingly sustainable manner?

These and related issues were discussed at the 19th International Consortium of Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR) Conference on “Impacts of the Bioeconomy on Agricultural Sustainability, the Environment, and Human Health.” This special issue presents eight articles from the conference that span four themes: herbicide resistance management, climate change, technology impacts, and governance. These articles provide a broad assessment of the current state of biotechnology research and application, offering insights into how farmers, firms, consumers, and governments are managing the technology to meet high food demands under challenging conditions. Read more…