Bioeconomy in Latin America

Bioeconomy in Latin America

Accepted Manuscript Title: Bioeconomy in Latin America Authors: Albert Sasson, Carlos Malpica PII: DOI: Reference: S1871-6784(17)30008-0

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Accepted Manuscript Title: Bioeconomy in Latin America Authors: Albert Sasson, Carlos Malpica PII: DOI: Reference:

S1871-6784(17)30008-0 NBT 1002

To appear in: Received date: Revised date: Accepted date:

8-1-2017 29-5-2017 12-7-2017

Please cite this article as: Sasson, Albert, Malpica, Carlos, Bioeconomy in Latin America.New Biotechnology This is a PDF file of an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for publication. As a service to our customers we are providing this early version of the manuscript. The manuscript will undergo copyediting, typesetting, and review of the resulting proof before it is published in its final form. Please note that during the production process errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain.

Bioeconomy in Latin America

Albert Sasson Resident Member of the Hassan II Academy of Science and Technology of Morocco. Director of the Life Sciences and Biotechnology Section President BioEuroLatina 51 Rue d'Alleray, 75015 Paris, France E-mail: [email protected]

Carlos Malpica CEO MLP Vision Biotech SL Vice-president BioEuroLatina Av Rey Juan Carlos I, 21 28221 Majadahonda, Spain E-mail: [email protected]

Highlights  Latin America has embraced bio-economy principles with different levels of socio-economic impact  The article provides examples of biodiversity resource valorization in different economy sectors  The importance of participatory and social innovation initiatives is highlighted Abstract

This article provides the authors’ view on how Latin America has embraced bioeconomy principles in the last two decades with different levels of socio-economic impact. Examples of biodiversity resource valorization in medicine, eco-intensification of agriculture, biotechnology applications in mature sectors such as mining, food and beverage production, bio-refineries and ecosystem services are provided. The importance of participatory and social innovation initiatives is highlighted.


Latin America holds very rich fossil, mineral and biological resources, which have shaped its economy for centuries. 21st century demographic challenges and industrial transformation are defining new value chains and economic models. A number of bioeconomic solutions have been developed in the region. This review will address some examples which vary according to their technology level of maturity (following the definition by the European Commission of Technology Readiness Level [1]) and socioeconomic impact.

The term “bioeconomy” encompasses all industrial and economic sectors that produce, manage and otherwise exploit biological resources and related services. The sustainable use of biological resources in production processes is at the core of new bioeconomy value chains. Increased knowledge in life sciences encourages the replacement of fossil fuels and fossil-derived materials by bio-derived materials, minimizing the environmental impact and recycling residues towards a more sustainable development.

The European Commission coined the term Knowledge-Based Bioeconomy (KBBE) as the process of transforming life-science knowledge into new, sustainable, eco-efficient and competitive products [2]. Bioeconomy thus consists of the transformation of biological sciences knowledge into products that are environmentally friendly and competitive. The processes must therefore produce “more with less” thanks to the performance of living beings. For instance, the use of biomass to produce biofuels in “bio-refineries”, or of microbial enzymes in various food and textile industries or value chains which include, in addition to useful products, the recycling of residues and by-products, are examples of bioeconomy that are based on new advances in biological sciences.

The following areas will be addressed: 

biodiversity resource valorization in medicine;

eco-intensification of agriculture;

biotechnology applications in mature sectors such as mining, food and beverage production;


ecosystem services.

Making sustainable use of biodiversity

Plant products play an important role in health-care systems. For example, drugs extracted from plants account for around 25% of prescriptions filled in the USA. The World Health Organization estimates that around 80% of the world’s inhabitants still rely on traditional medicine, including plant extracts and phytochemicals, for their primary health-care. Latin America holds a very vast plant biological diversity and has relied on herbal medicine for centuries. A very well documented case is that of the quina tree bark (Cinchona officinalis), extracts of which have contributed to fighting malarial fevers since the 17th century and were so intensively used during the second world war that they almost disappeared from its biodiversity centre in Peru and Ecuador, exemplifying the risks of extractive economies inherited from colonial times. However, in recent years several initiatives in Latin America are contributing to the introduction of knowledge-based bioeconomic principles, transforming raw material bioresource economies in several countries.

A successful initiative involves INBio, the National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica. This not-for-profit scientific association promotes biodiversity and quality of life and collaborates closely with the Ministry of Energy and Environment (MINAE). The INBio strategy has been to develop agreements for bioprospection, training and capacity building. One of the first examples of biodiversity exploitation with mutual benefit sharing was a partnership created in 1991 between Merck & Co and INBio. It is reported that Merck invested over $3.5 million to access to various natural extracts, while INBio allocated half of its share of royalties to the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy, for conservation purposes. Since then INBio has engaged in collaborations with other companies such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Ecos-La Pacífica, Indena, Givaudan Roure

and Diversa. 10% of research contracts and 50% of future royalties are intended to be reinvested in biodiversity preservation.

Another important deal took place between INBio and the Korean Research Institute for Biosciences and Biotechnology (KRIBB). They found anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities in Diospyros blancoi, the mabolo tree, found in the Conservation Area of Osa. This discovery may lead to treatment of allergies and asthma. Other applications from a research collaboration which started in 2008 under the framework of the Korea-Costa Rica Biodiversity Research Center (KCBRC) include the search for anti-ageing compounds in food preservation and cosmetics. Another biodiverse country, Peru, has engaged in a similar collaboration in 2005 with South Korea: the agreement was signed between KRIBB and the Peruvian Science and Technology Council (CONCYTEC). It involved the testing of coded plant extract samples from 450 medicinal plants from the Amazonian forest, establishing 100 monographs of medicinal plants.

The path to success in securing a sustainable biodiversity resource valorization in medicine is however technically challenging and costly. Of approximately 250.000 species of higher plants, researchers may have only systematically investigated 5-15%. The success of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Taxol (paclitaxel), used in cancer treatment and extracted from Pacific yew, may have induced the erroneous concept that every plant holds a potential cure for disease. What is overlooked is the fact that Taxol was only found after 22 years of research - during which 35,000 samples from 12,000 species were examined.

Other initiatives in the region have not fulfilled their promise, mainly due to the lack of applicable legislation and stakeholder reward schemes, which would effectively reward the country for accessing its sovereign genetic resources and pay back custodian populations for their traditional knowledge. To this day, the lack of practical lawful schemes enabling access to resources still limits the production of scientific research and the subsequent use of potentially valuable resources.

Eco-intensification of agriculture: re-shaping agriculture in Latin America

The organization of Argentinian agriculture and livestock husbandry has evolved gradually to a point where both the rural enterprise and the whole sector had become very different from what it was a few decades earlier. Clusters of production and innovation had been formed and establishing relations which go far beyond commercial exchanges solely governed by prices. The above noted clusters have promoted the development of technical and organizational capacities that depend not only on individual productivity, but also on exchange links between the various actors involved in the activities [3].

One of such significant changes in recent decades has been the adoption of genetically engineered (GM) crops which has led to a thrust in commodity production (second soybean exporter and first soymeal and soya oil exporter). Alliances were made between GM-seed producers with conventional seed producers and with specialists involved in conventional breeding of crop varieties (so called “phyto improvers”). What should be highlighted is that the GM crops are delivered in association with complementary agricultural practices. For instance, GM glyphosate-tolerant soybeans are associated with no-tillage farming (which protects the soil through mulching and conservation of organic matter). Hence seed producers as well as pesticide and herbicide suppliers often come from the same companies and reach the farmers through commercial channels that also provide technical assistance as well as funding. In a complementary way, manufacturers of agricultural machinery had been gradually improving their equipment through the introduction of electronic devices. New equipment has been developed for no-tillage farming and the filling of silos with a significant contribution from local engineers [3].

By 1996, the adoption of GM crops in Argentina (with the introduction of the first soybean variety tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate, Roundup-Ready) had been the major driver of innovation in Argentine agriculture. Argentina, like Brazil, China or India, has been spearheading research on developing new GM soybean varieties that are drought tolerant and also can grow on saline soils. This is expected not only to increase

soybean production globally and in particular in Argentina, but also feed innovation based on advanced crop genetics produced by local researchers. The resulting bioeconomy will be effectively based on the results of local research thus exemplifying locally fuelled bioeconomy.

In the early 1990s, Raquel Lia Chan, an Argentinian molecular biologist, had been trying to use a gene from sunflower to transfer drought resistance to this oilseed species (Argentina is the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil and meal). Thereafter in 20052006 she tried to reach the objective with soybeans in the Litoral Agrobiotechnlogy Institute (IAL, Instituto de Agrobiotecnologia del Litoral). The IAL is a joint venture between the National University of Litoral and the Science and Technology Research Council, CONICET). Field work was carried out by the company Bioceres in several provinces of Argentina: Cordoba, Santa Fé, Buenos Aires, San Luis and Chaco. The work lasted several years. On the other hand, the collaboration of the University of California (Davis) Department of Plant Sciences, the Chengdu Institute of Biology (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, China) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics Agriculture (Rehovot, Israel) with Raquel Lia Chang also focused on the development of drought-tolerant rice, that may be commercialized in a few years [4] (like in the case of drought-tolerant soybeans).

A GM potato resistant to potato virus Y was also developed by Fernando Bravo Almonacid and Alejandro Mentaberry, researchers of the Institute for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology – INGEBI, of the CONICET. It is worth mentioning that it is the same group of researchers and those of INTA (National Institute for Agricultural Technology), near Buenos Aires, and under the leadership of Esteban Hopp, who was able to develop several other GM potato varieties that will become available to farmers in a short lapse of time. The national biotechnology company that will commercialize the PVY-resistant potato is Technoplant, a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical group Sidus.

Like Argentina, Brazil is able to develop in its research laboratories transgenic crop varieties, which not only meet the needs of its farmers, but also led to a strong economy in the production and trade of commodities. Despite profound political and economic

crisis since 2015-2016, Brazil remains a country of innovation in agriculture and livestock husbandry. For example, Brazilian researchers from EMBRAPA (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisas Agropecuarias, Portuguese acronym for Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) developed a virus-resistant bean- an important staple crop. There is no doubt that by transforming its savannah soils, adopting GM crops and developing them locally, introducing all kinds of innovations based on advanced biological knowledge and being able to produce sugar and at the same time biofuels from cane sugar, Brazil is now trying to reach the objectives of bioeconomy. Of course it remains to be seen how the ecological imprint of this agriculture and livestock, relying increasingly on biological knowledge, can be reduced drastically for instance by reducing the encroachment of agriculture on forested areas and the emissions of greenhouse-effect gases from both agricultural and animal husbandry.

Another tool worth mentioning, which contributes to real bioeconomy as defined previously, is precision agriculture. This is an array of technologies that can use drones or remote sensing to make decisions on when to start harvesting crops, or the measurements of ripeness of grapes in order to give a good guidance to the harvesters. EMBRAPA has created an Institute for Precision Agriculture at São Carlos, near Sao Pablo. These techniques which are systemically improved in planting crops, harvesting them at the right time and in post-harvesting approaches, are definitively poised to influence agri- and arbori-culture in their efficiency and the decrease of their ecological imprint. Precision agriculture can make a real contribution to the development of an effective bioeconomy.

Biotechnology as a whole is contributing strongly to the bioeconomy. In addition to the applications in the pharmaceutical industry, which was the first to benefit from it, plant biotechnology that started in 1996 with the first genetically modified plants in the field, has become, despite all the controversy and discussion, an important contribution to bioeconomy in many countries in Latin America.

Biotechnology applications in the mining industry

Environment biotechnology, also termed “white biotechnology”, includes all the biotic processes aimed at controlling pollution, e.g. wastewater, industrial effluent and solidwaste treatments. This environmental biotechnology contributes to a green economy and, indirectly, to a bioeconomy, through the reuse and recycling of wastes.

A good example in Latin America is the outstanding effort made by Chile in applying bioleaching (or biometallurgy) to extract copper. The copper industry in this country accounts for a third of global copper production and reserves, and a fifth of national economic output. Bioleaching had been used in Chile only for the recovery of copper with a low concentration of the metal until the mid 1980s. Since then, the bioleaching process was upgraded and there are currently many state and privately owned mines that use bacterial bioleaching. The more than 5 million tons of copper produced in the late 1990s were the result of processing 400 million tons of ore including 40 million tons treated via bioleaching. This figure increased during the following decades. The Chilean government entrusted the company BioSigma S.A. with the task of becoming a leader in biotechnology applied to copper mining. Nippon Mining and Metals Co., a Japanese corporation, joined BioSigma which became the first example of an alliance between two mining groups (Codelco and Nippon Mining and Metals Co.) and the Chilean government to help industry transform basic knowledge (applied microbiology and advanced knowledge on the physiology of extremophilic micro-organisms) into innovative products and services. Competitive funds where allocated to attract research groups from Chilean and foreign universities. Funded work included the identification of specific microorganisms, their production, as well as the discovery of genes encoding proteins that facilitate the bioleaching of copper sulphurated ores. The overall objective was to increase bioleaching efficiency through the cloning or the design of more effective bacteria [5].

Another challenge of copper mining in Chile is the high concentration of arsenic and chloride in copper ores, as well as in the mine tailings, that must be kept on the site and not removed or dumped near urban settlements. It was therefore necessary to design a safer and cost-effective bioleaching process using arsenic and chloride-tolerant

microorganisms, to be applied not only to new mining sites but also to mining wastes from which the maximum amount of residual copper would be extracted. Nippon Mining and Metals Co. which is a shareholder in several copper mines in Chile built a $150 million plant in association with Codelco, to test the applicability of the bioleaching process named BioCop and developed in South Africa by the BHP consortium. Tests included the use of chloride-tolerant hyper-thermophilic microorganisms [5].

All these processes of bioleaching are aimed not only at extracting metals in an environmentally friendly way (with extremophilic microbes), but also at reducing the waste from ore-tailings, extracting metals through a less costly and aggressive metallurgic processes. This undoubtedly contributes to bioeconomic mining within a green economy.

Biotechnology applications in the food and beverage industries

Andean countries and countries which include Amazonian ecosystems offer numerous examples of plant species, wild or domesticated, that could be exploited as functional foodstuffs if clinical tests are carried out on the use of their relevant organs (roots, fruits, seeds and leaves) and if they can be cultivated on a commercial scale, once their nutraceutical value have been scientifically proven.

The nutraceutics also called functional food sector is a pertinent area for bioeconomy development in Latin America. Large food companies have engaged in this sector with significant financial investment. Nestlé became the world’s second-biggest producer behind Abbott Laboratories after buying Novartis’ medical nutrition division. The purchase was part of Nestlé’s strategy to be present in new ventures and areas where profits are higher than in conventional food industry. Peter Brabeck, Nestlé’s CEO at that time, stated it was an “important step towards the strategic transformation of its group into a company focused on nutrition, health and well being”.

The International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru, has highlighted the potential of several Andean crop species with respect to their nutritional and health properties [6]. The Programme of Andean Potato (Programa Papa Andina-INCOPA) promotes the qualities of indigenous Andean potatoes (Solanum tuberosum). These potatoes contain vitamin C, carotenoids, phenols, including chlorogenic acid (80-90% of all the phenolic compounds), flavonoids and flavonols. Up to 400 clones of indigenous potatoes were analyzed and their micronutrient contents compared with those of commercial varieties. They were generally higher compared with commercial varieties. Similar valuable findings have been achieved with sweet potato or camote (Ipomoea batatas), Maca (Lepidium meyenii), mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum) and yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius).

The key to unlocking the potential of all nutritional property findings resides in being able to accelerate domestication of wild species and/or incorporating valuable genetic features in cultivated species. This becomes possible with breeding tools derived from the knowledge of the genomic sequence of the species of interest. Interestingly the race to genome sequencing of valuable species is setting the stage for a new bioeconomy transformation. While the sequence of the potato genome resulted from international efforts including major institutions outside the region [7], the sequencing of the maize and bean genomes resulted from efforts conducted by local organizations.

Beans (Phaseolus) are one of the oldest crops of the world. It was domesticated in America thousands of years ago. According to studies by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), common bean is the most important food legume, representing 50% of the pulses consumed in the world. This crop is produced in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, China, Europe, USA and Canada. 2016 was designated by the UN as the International Year of Pulses [8] to increase public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition.

An Ibero-American team of scientists, from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Spain at the initiative of the Ibero-American Programme for Science and Technology for

Development (CYTED), sequenced the genome of the Mesoamerican common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) [9]. The PhasibeAm team selected a specific Meso-American bean line for genomic sequencing, given its relevance for the generation of varieties that are currently used commercially. The team established a robust technological platform and conducted the sequencing and the assembly of the 620 million nucleotides. A total of 30.491 genes were identified in the genome. The total 2.5 million US dollar budget of the project was funded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (MINCyT) of Argentina, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) of Brazil, the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) of Spain, the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT) of Mexico, and the Ibero-American Programme of Science and Technology for Development (CYTED).


First-generation biofuels or agrofuels, such as ethanol from maize (starch) and sugar cane (saccharose), and biodiesel from vegetable oils (palm oil and colza), are now established in many countries, often encouraged by generous subsidies and supportive regulations. However, there have been persistent concerns about diverting agricultural resources towards fuel production [10]. In the USA, where ethanol accounted for 8% of the country’s fuel for vehicles, it consumed almost 40% of its maize harvest. According to the FAO, if ethanol production would increase again, after increasing five-fold between 2000 and 2010, it would divert a tenth of the world’s cereal output from food to fuels [11].

Brazil, the world’s second-biggest producer of ethanol, behind the USA, and leading exporter, produces its fuel mainly from the fermentation of sugarcane. Processing plants can go back and forth between ethanol and crystallized sugar depending on prices. They can even be converted into “biorefineries” where not only fuel or sugar are produced but also other kinds of products, the bagasse being used as en energy source for those refineries. Brazil obtains 8 units of energy for every unit that goes into making it, so the whole process is relatively efficient and environment-friendly. In contrast, ethanol

produced from maize starch in the USA results in 1,5 units of energy output per unit of input, but the inefficiency of the process is underwritten by government subsidies and high tariff walls (e.g. against imports of Brazilian ethanol). Obviously one process, especially if it evolves towards multipurpose bio-refineries, is more bioeconomical than the other [10].

This situation has led to an increasingly intensive search for new feedstocks and processes. In the early 2000´s, large international oil companies had stepped up their commitment to research and development on advanced biofuels. Several of the companies developing second-generation biofuels, those not produced from food crops, claimed to be close to commercial development, yet delivery of large volumes of their products was still many years away (e.g. cellulosic ethanol, biofuels from microalgae, “drop-in” biofuels from genetically modified bacteria). On the other hand, the gradual electrification of cars, however the electricity might be generated, would be the end of the road for ethanol.

Countries such as Brazil can develop an advanced knowledge-based bioeconomy for the production of ethanol, as well as sugar production, thanks to increasing the yield of sugar cane (GM sugar cane resistant to pests), using highly performing strains of yeast or other microorganisms, recycling of wastes and in the case of bagasse including it in the energy cycle. All these advances can still make sense towards a green economy or bioeconomy. Food and efficient fuel production with a minimum ecological footprint can be compatible towards a green bioeconomy, drastically reducing the use of fossil fuels.

An interesting example on moving out from monoculture for bioethanol production has been developed by Clayuca Corporation, involving several Latin American countries. A research and development programme has been implemented since 2006 with the aim of establishing a technology platform for processing hydrated bioethanol at the level of small rural communities, using as raw material cassava, sweet potato and sweet sorghum [12].

Ecosystem service-aware bioeconomy

Ecosystem functions are the chemical, physical and biological processes that contribute to ecosystem self-maintenance. Some examples of ecosystem functions are provision of wildlife habitat, carbon cycling, or capture of nutrients. Thus, ecosystems, such as wetlands, forests, or estuaries, can be characterized by the processes that occur within them. Ecosystem services are the beneficial outcomes, for the natural environment or people, that result from ecosystem processes. Some examples of ecosystem services are support of the food chain, sustainable harvesting of animals or plants, and the provision of clean water or outstanding landscapes. Ecosystem services can be calculated in the form of natural capital variation in forest, land and water. Their potential benefits, how they are produced, and what social development growth goal they support can also be calculated.

The concept of accounting for natural capital has been established over several decades. A major step towards achieving a common standard resulted from the adoption by the UN Statistical Commission of the System for Environmental and Economic Accounts (SEEA) [13]. This provides an internationally‐agreed method to account for material natural resources like timber, minerals and fisheries. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment [14] reported that the human use of ecosystem services, particularly provisioning services, has accelerated in the last 50 years and that nearly 60% of these services globally are being degraded or used in an unsustainable way. This is a cause for alarm as it is aligned with rapid population and economic growth, changes in consumption patterns and climate change. The demand for ecosystem services is expected to grow in the foreseeable future, accentuating current environmental and social challenges.

Understanding the importance of ecosystem services and taking them into account when building new value chains, is essential to the success of bioeconomy initiatives. An example is provided here from Colombia, involving the Colombian Agricultural Biotechnology Programme (Programa Colombiano de Biotecnología Agrícola, PBA),

funded between 1997 y 2007 by the government of the Netherlands. The initiative involves Universidad Nacional, Universidad de Córdoba, Universidad de Sucre, CORPOICA (Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research), CIAT (International Tropical Agricultural Research Centre), COLCIENCIAS (Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation), and Fondo Participativo para la Acción Ambiental (participatory fund for environmental action), the Ministry of Agriculture and International Organization for Migration (IOM). The programme aims to incorporate biotechnology into the production system of yam or ñame (Dioscoreae sp.) to ensure the sustainable development and quality of life of the low income producers from the Caribbean and the Atlantic Coast of the country. Interestingly this tubercule was imported by their ancestors from Africa, and now plays an important role in nutrition as a source of energy in wet tropic and subtropic lands of Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, Caribbean and the Pacific [15]. Little research has been conducted on this resource [16]. Yam belongs to the Dioscoreaceae family, whose 6 genera represent 600 to 900 species. 25 species are cited as food, 15 medicinal plants, 6 ornamentals and 60 have economic value [17]. This monocotyledonous plant develops tubercules and rhizomes which receive the name of yam or ñame, and are rich in starch and secondary metabolites [18].

A first element to secure a viable and quality level of production is to produce quality seed. The team at the Instituto de Biotecnología (IBUN) from the National University has implemented low-cost biotechnology processes to secure this first step in the production system. The social innovation programme includes participation from local families in agronomical practices. The programme also aims to reduce the use of agrochemicals thanks to locally produced inputs. This has a positive impact with regard to preservation of the agrobiodiversity and increases the natural capital of the agroecosystem. This initiative represents a valuable example of how the sustainable production of domesticated species with potential value in the new bioeconomy can be achieved using social innovation principles and with increased natural capital of the ecosystem. Ecosystem service accounting should also be applied to projects involving the use of more advanced technologies.


This article showcases examples taken from representative countries in the region, including Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru. Countries with a smaller gross national product are also adopting the principles of knowledge-base bioeconomy. In fact, macro-economic parameters such as per capita income do not relate to the level of adoption. An interesting case is that of Cuba, a country which has reached








Acknowledgement of intellectual property hinders however the full development of an interconnected bioeconomy beyond its borders. As noted before, as in the case of biodiversity valorization, laws and regulations do impact the rate of bioeconomy transition.

The transition towards a knowledge-based bioeconomy is also highly dependent on the level of applicability of new technology developments in specific sectors of Latin American economy. The expected socio-economic impact can be very high in mature sectors, where value chains are well established. A good example of high technology readiness level and high socio-economic impact is the implementation of GMO technology in agriculture.

As in other regions of the world, Latin America faces significant challenges in its transition towards implementing new bioeconomy value chains, where technology readiness is at lower level and when the economy sector for its application is still building. Such challenge is very clear in the sector of biofuels and bio-products. The richness of biodiversity in the region and the challenge to preserve beneficial ecosystem services calls for local-specific solutions. Such solutions are not merely technical in nature, nor are they commanding necessarily for high technical input; they require instead participation from all stakeholders (from rural to urban environment, from producers to transformers, from scientists to citizens). Special attention should be brought to participatory and social innovation initiatives which are growing in the region. The authors recommend that these aspects be included in the formal training of future generations of scientists. Funding of research projects should consider the

potential socio-economic impact of new value chains in bioeconomy and establish the basis for participatory schemes which will contribute to fast track technology adoption and amplify its benefit to society.


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