In the bioeconomy, we are well-used to processes involving
plants. In the overwhelming majority of cases, plants are the source of biomass
from which biobased products are derived, and it is plant biomass that is
processed and burned to produce bioenergy. Thus, rightly so, plants get the
bulk of the attention, but animals also have important roles to play in the
bioeconomy, if at a lesser scale.
The obvious difference is an ethical one: there
is no concept of plant welfare (although this does manifest itself in a way,
through forestry management, and farmers seeking to find the optimal growing
conditions for crops), and it is welfare concerns that see animals rarely
involved in modern industrial processes. However, this does not preclude
animals from involvement in the bioeconomy, and indeed, an increasing number of
bioeconomy processes and products are starting to take inspiration from
animals: biomimetics is a field dedicated to imitating nature in industry,
taking advantage of the millions of years of evolution that have produced
efficient processes. The bioeconomy is no different in the way it can benefit
from such an approach.
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