Biosecurity and sustainability within the growing global bioeconomy

Andrew Sheppard, Iain Gillespie, Mikael Hirsch, Cameron Begley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Crop-based biofuel production has grown exponentially, driven by government policy interventions to achieve national targets and venture capital investments. This urgency may compromise the biosecurity of these and future agricultural production systems such as the development of new bioindustry-focused GM crops for high value industrial and pharmaceutical compounds. Energy security and prospects of a future emission-constrained economy are driving these developments of novel non-food crops and varieties in new areas, coupled with domestic agricultural and innovation policies and responses to recent and potential future crude oil pricing. New species and varieties are now being commercially fostered around the world also because of their potential to reinvigorate the global agro-forestry industries. The vanguard of the first, second and third generation biofuel solutions are in various stages of production. Their true dollar and carbon-based economic viability is unclear due to government subsidies along the value chain, and some crop-production systems are failing commercially and environmentally due to limited consideration of associated agronomic biosecurity problems. Novel crops in current production systems and new regions can also pose significant invasion threats to human health, agriculture, biodiversity and natural ecosystem services through firstly, uncontrolled allergen and toxicity-associated impacts on human well-being; secondly, abandoned trial plantings of uneconomic varieties; and thirdly, feral individuals (or invasive species) from economically viable plantations invading agricultural and natural landscapes.Novel crops will also have suites of pests, weeds and diseases that will impact pest management systems in neighbouring crops. To avoid this we need landscape scale sustainable integrated pest management systems that ensure the triple-bottom-line production viability requirements of the 21st century. This introductory paper summarises the new globalbioeconomy and the international policy opportunities and challenges for sustainable development that it encompasses. We then introduce the biosecurity issues covered by this issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability from a research, policy and industrial perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-10
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


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