Until the recent financial crisis, biology-based industries were some of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy—the biofuels business was booming, agriculture commodity prices were high, agricultural biotechnology firms were making record profits, and the pharmaceutical industry was increasingly based on biologics. A recent European Union report has estimated that the contribution of modern biotechnology to the European Union’s gross value added is just under 2%, about the same size as the contribution of all agriculture or the chemical industry. The financial crisis has had impacts on the bio-economy, and these impacts will continue. The bio-economy has been ‘emerging’ for some time now and questions about what exactly fits into the bioeconomy, how important it is, and how large it will be in the future are important topics for debate. Within the bioeconomy, some components are emerging, but several major constraints to further growth still exist. These aspects and a few more were discussed at the 13th International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR) conference on ‘The Emerging Bioeconomy.’1 This special issue includes a selection of 10 articles presented at the conference. The issue further includes a summary of the key findings from the conference as well as the Santaniello Memorial Lecture given by Odin Knudsen, Managing Director of Environmental Markets at J.P. Morgan.
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