Towards sustainable spatial development? Exploring the implications of the emerging bio-economy in agri-food and regional innovation

The bio-economic paradigm can be described as those economic activities which capture the latent value in biological processes and renewable bioresources to produce improved health and sustainable growth and development. This article is a critical review of the impact of the emerging bio-economy in rural development. It describes some of its consequences in the sphere of agri-food and regional innovation based on a specific -and in our opinion weak - definition of Ecological Modernization. The central question then is: what are the conceptual roots, driving forces, empirical expressions and implications of bio-economic development? We argue that although the bio-economy makes severe sustainability claims, it also shows some missing links, has some negative environmental and social side-effects and runs the risk of a one-sided economy. We plead that the alternative trajectory of eco-economic development can be a serious alternative for especially vulnerable places, who want to increase their resilience.

Sustainable development; Ecological Modernization; Bioeconomy; Eco-economy; Food production

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