Project output

Inclusive Biobased Innovation: Securing sustainability and supply through farmers’ involvement

Academic publications

Robaey, Z; Asveld, L. & P. Osseweijer (2018). “Roles and responsibilities in transition? Farmers’ ethics in the bio-economy.” In: Svenja Springer and Herwig Grimm (eds.), Professionals in food chains (conference proceedings), Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers
Read more 
Abstract: Concepts of bio-economy and the circular economy come at a time where technological solutions are increasingly needed to move away from a fossil-fuel based economy in the context of climate change and other rising environmental concerns such as waste disposal. These technological solutions rely not only on the use of biotechnology but also on the use of biomass produced by farmers world-wide. The origins of this biomass might become increasingly specialised, for instance through the use of energy crops, or existing edible crops might find to have multiple uses for varied industries. Farmers, then, become an important provider of a resource that might be needed by many, and that is not food or feed. What arable land is used for and how it is used is a question of moral significance (Kline et al., 2017). The role of farmers in the bio-economy is of moral significance. What are the roles and responsibilities of farmers in the context of this transition? What is a farmer’s ethics in the bioeconomy? Most studies on farmers seem to focus on behavior and policy incentives impact on behavior. Recently, Meijboom and Stafleu (2016) suggested that entrusting farmers with professional moral autonomy increases the chance of them formulating innovative answers to ethical issues. This ties in with three recent arguments in the ethics of technology. First, Asveld (2016) argues that experimenting and thereby learning (as in moral learning, learning about impacts and institutional learning) is necessary for the bioeconomy. Second, Robaey (2016a) argues that in order to be morally responsible for new technologies they use, farmers must have access to knowledge and develop their epistemic virtues (2016b). Last but not least, the suggestion that the bio-economy and its technologies might improve the life of farmers invites looking into Oosterlaken’s (2015) arguments on the capabilities approach and its relation to new technologies. In this paper, we want to articulate the relation between farmer’s values, virtues, and capabilities in order to first flesh out the implications of the professional moral autonomy argument and thereby to provide a framework for conceptualizing their changing roles and responsibilities in the context of the bio-economy.

Conference presentations

Robaey, Z. (2020). “Inclusive Biobased Innovations.” Presentation at Inclusive Innovation: Perspectives and Practices, 24 February 2020, University of Ottawa.

Robaey, Z; Bailey, A. & L. Asveld (2019). Towards an Inclusive Bioeconomy – Capitals of Farming Communities in Jamaica. Paper presented at the 15th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics (EurSafe 2019), 18-21 September 2019, University of Tampere, Finland.
Read more
: New technologies have accelerated the advent of the bioeconomy, making new products from biomass. Such projects must take into account the social components of introducing technologies. In order to have an inclusive biobased economy, an understanding of stakeholders in the value chain is required. Most of all with farming communities as they find themselves at the foundation of the bioeconomy, as producers. How can we build on local strengths to add value by diversifying products of agriculture? In this short paper, we describe our explorative field work in the opportunities for the bioeconomy for the Jamaican sugar cane industry, through capitals of farming communities framework. Our initial investigation suggests relations between the capitals that can be nurtured and strengthened for the normative goal of inclusion. We sketch how the relations between the capitals might have implications for social groups, but also for technological choices. An inclusive bioeconomy is therefore one that nurtures the relations between community capitals.

Other publications

Robaey, Z; Asveld, L. and P. Osseweijer (2018). “Roles and responsibilities in transition? Farmers’ ethics in the bio-economy ”. In: EurSafe News, volume 20, no.1, June 2018 (pp.13-15).
Read more
Article lead
: The idea of the bio-economy comes at a time where technological solutions are increasingly necessary to move away from a fossil fuel based economy in order to redress our environmental bill and fight climate change. The most known example of the bio-economy is the production of bio-fuels, not the least controversial because of the food versus fuel debate, and yet it could be acceptable under the right circumstances (Nuffield Council 2011). In the meantime, a multitude of technological developments have emerged for producing biofuels from different sources of biomass, including leftovers of agriculture, and specialised energy crops. With these technological developments, multiple stakeholders aiming to set up sustainable bio-based value chains have emerged. Here sustainable refers to using biomass, as a renewable resource, and having overall less greenhouse gas emissions. Besides bio-fuels, bio-based value chains explore what products could be made from biomass such as materials, or nutraceuticals. Farmers, then, become an important provider of a resource that might be needed by many, and that is neither food nor feed.

Other presentations

Márcio Buainain, Antônio et al. (2020). “Mature and innovative value chains in bioeconomics: assessing maturity and studying ways to improve performance the case of Brazil.” Presentation at an IBIS project meeting, February 2020, Utrecht, The Netherlands.Read more

Wubben, Emiel & Kinsuk Sinha (2020). “Inclusive Biobased Value Chains (IBIS): The case of the Netherlands. ” Presentation at an IBIS project meeting, February 2020, Utrecht, The Netherlands.