What Is Bioeconomics: Biological Economics

What Is Bioeconomics: Biological Economics
I take this opportunity to present bioeconomics: biological economics assuming readers of this issue of the Journal have not read my book and are not familiar with this new science. Also, since the publication of the book over two years ago my ideas on bioeconomics have evolved and I have developed new ideas and concepts. It is my intention in what follows to highlight briefly (a) what bioeconomics really is (b) its original contributions, through its innovative ideas, to various areas of knowledge and (c) how it can contribute to the extension of other areas. 
Bioeconomics: Biological Economics provides a new epistemology for investigating the socioeconomic system in conjunction with the biological system as a whole and by studying the non-linear interactions between their components and not only the characteristics of the individual components. It has been developed as a response to the incremental approach of the other economy-environment disciplines (resource economics, environmental economics and ecological economics) where the pathologies of capitalism and its industrial system have been investigated individually and separately. The main objective of Bioeconomics is to bring about the synthesis of biology and economics, to bridge the gap between empirical science of biology and the literary science of economics and thus to end the disunion and separation between “ the two cultures”.
The significance of the bioeconomic epistemology is as much about elucidating the interface problems as discussing the question of coexistence and coevolution of the biological and socioeconomic systems where one is totally dependent upon the other. The coevolution of the socio- economic system with the biological system has to be encouraged by sustaining what is possible depending on the biological capital (quantity and quality) and also by what is desirable depending on the quality of human capital.
"Bioeconomics is a paradigmatic shift in the evolution of the disciplines investigating the problems arising from the impact of the socioeconomic activity on the environment. These problems are neither solely due to biologic causes nor are they solely due to economic causes. They are rather due to their interactions; that is they are bioeconomic". The paradigm shift is necessary in order to make the invisible visible which in the case of Bioeconomics is to make visible all the problems associated with the capitalist socioeconomic system and the weakness of the neoclassical theory upon which it is based. 
- All sentences in single quotation marks are from the author’s book; Bioeconomics Biological Economics. Interdisciplinary Study of Biology, Economics and Education.
Bioeconomics represents a fundamental change in our ideology as far as socioeconomic, environmental, biological and ethical activities are concerned. It is an attempt to expand the discipline of economics to the mother of sciences, biology and that by providing the former with robust anchoring in the empirical investigative domain will render it predictive too. It is the science, which determines the socioeconomic activity threshold for which a biological system can be utilised without destroying the conditions necessary for its regeneration and therefore its sustainability. The mantra of Bioeconomics is to externalize profits but to privatise costs ensuing from the capitalist socioeconomic enterprise in contrast to the neoclassical economics, which externalizes costs but internalises profits. 
Almost all environmental and biological discontinuities such as global warming, ozone depletion and exhaustion of fisheries among others are the results of non-linear interactions occurring at the interface of biological and socioeconomic systems. These interactions give rise to problems with emergent properties whose behaviour and characteristics have to be studied en toto and not by heuristics useful for quantitative information. However, the holistic framework with the interdisciplinary methodology requires great integrative ability, which can task our cognitive power. This ability can be taxed both by the quantity of information and by the quality of information which have to be integrated to supply knowledge and wisdom.
Humanity is confronted with serious problems in its biological, socioeconomic, environmental and ethical spheres of existence. It is on these occasions that solutions have to originate from innovative theoretical propositions. It is exactly at such times that our cognitive power may not be up to the task and not sufficient to explain with exactitude what we really have in mind. Bioeconomics as a holistic interdisciplinary science has been developed as an intellectual exercise in response to these challenges. It has been criticised for being too theoretical: the important point is that it does not suffer from theoretical autism and is based on tangible realities; that is “it is founded upon the realism imperative which makes bioeconomics not value free but on the contrary value laden by providing it with a biocentric value system”. Moreover, "... it does introduce new ideas but like any intellectual undertaking it is a theoretical construct which is nevertheless founded on the societal imperatives and is therefore quite amenable to empirical investigation". 
The disciplinary investigative methodology followed for the past few centuries has provided humanity with a lot of useful information but not really with the type of qualitative information necessary for understanding and wisdom required for solving the complex, uncertain, interactive and emergent problems. To obtain the required quality information the socioeconomic system has to be treated for what it really is: a complex, highly networked financial system and not a simple one separate from its foundational biological system and operating by rational economic agents in fierce competition and according to an artificial equilibrium condition."Interdisciplinarity is an innovative methodology through which it is intended to achieve interbreeding of different ideas, knowledge areas and concepts. ... It is an innovation giving rise to an intellectually active practitioner adapting to the changing panorama of science whereas disciplinarity promotes inbreeding and uniformity resulting in a bland and boring Homo academicus".
Bioeconomics is a conceptual science whose theoretical foundation is based on holism and interdisciplinarity for integrating available information to generate innovative knowledge without even resorting to new information. In this sense it is similar to the twenty six letters of the English alphabet making it possible to generate new words and sentences without inventing new letters .It is hoped that Bioeconomics through its holistic interdisciplinary heuristics will overcome the reductionist disciplinary methodology not suitable when we are faced with a great deal of information which has to be correlated into a new whole.
The fact is that disciplines and disciplinary investigation have reached the cul-de-sac in clarifying complex emergent problems. Moreover, the natural sciences, biology in particular, in comparison to the social sciences has galloped on and away from the social sciences. The gap is widening and the solution is to bring about a synthesis and develop a holistic interdisciplinary scienceThe study of non-linear interactions arising from closely coupled systems such as the biological and socioeconomic activity systems requires a holistic philosophy with an interdisciplinary methodology. A non-linear system such as the global socioeconomic system is very susceptible to small perturbations in any of its myriad of its components rendering it changeable in its totality and magnifying the small effects by orders of magnitude. 
Altruism, cooperation, reciprocity, trust and empathy are the cultural pillars of the science of Bioeconomics and as such they present a challenge to develop a humane socioeconomic activity. Bioeconomics provides the possibility of integrating, and mitigating, the calculated rationality, competition, mistrust and hostility prevalent in the capitalist socioeconomic activity with these intangible non-economic components of human feeling thus making it possible to develop a more humane socioeconomic enterprise cognizant of both humanity’s spiritual and biological requirements. This will require a fundamental change from the transforming socioeconomic market activity of exchange value to the productive bioeconomic enterprise of use value where the wealthy will invest their extra cash in projects with use value (for example to provide employment) and not the purchase of luxury goods (utilising a lot of biological resources and damaging the environment too).
A socioeconomic activity with these characteristics and founded on the biological principles of conservation, regeneration, recycling and practising cyclic temporality (not observed now due to multiple cropping using a great quantity of fertilisers and biocides) and the socioeconomic principles of equality and equity in conjunction with the ethical principle of living off nature’s income and not its biological capital presents an alternative to the wasteful and growth-oriented capitalist economy based on the idea that wealth creation and human prosperity is possible only if socioeconomic enterprise keeps on the path of continuous growth . While it is true that the economy has to grow to create wealth and prosperity for a growing population, however, we should develop a type of socioeconomic enterprise that can achieve this with the least hardship to people, with minimum damage to the environment and the least destruction of biodiversity by means of sustaining its regeneration capacity.
Thus Bioeconomics based on the innovative ideas resulting from syncretising biology and economics is proposed as the scientific foundation for a visionary socioeconomic activity, namely the bioeconomic activity with a long-term vision and purpose in contrast to the conventional socioeconomic activity that promotes growth and profit for the short term. I present Bioeconomics as Economics of the Third Way placing it between the old (orthodox) economics of equilibrium, rationality, quantity and simplicity and the new (global) economy of non-equilibrium, non-rationality and complexity but also retaining the best aspects of both such as competition with cooperation, quantity with quality and being with living as depicted below:

  • Activity : Biologic Medium : Organism Code : Be / not to be

  • Activity : Economic Medium : Corporations with indust.capital Code : Possess / not to possess

  • Activity : Bioeconomic Medium : Corporations with bioeconomic capital Code : Being with living (not merely existing).

A socioeconomic activity based on the economics of the third way must be also complemented with a bioeconomic accounting system which would consider the real cost of biological resource utilisation and environmental degradation. To use the bioeconomic accounting system requires accounting for resource utilisation as cost and not as income, elimination of subsidies and considering the cost of externalities and of voluntary work . It is time for a new ethics of biological resource utilisation. We are doing with our biological capital what some multinationals have done with their monetary capital, that is using fancy esoteric accounting procedures to hide losses. The current accounting methods are all variations of a reductionist accounting procedure for measuring the contribution separately of each input, be it capital, labour or resources to the process of economic growth .We have to introduce the observer-observed concept of biology in the subjective social sciences in order to give them some objectivity. In contrast to investigations in biology where animals and plants are observed by the investigator, however, in the socioeconomic affairs we are all observers and observing without remedy and paralysed to stop the loss of our biological capital.
The truth is that economists have thought of the socioeconomic activity system as an activity related to, and based on, numbers meaning a system, which is simple, linear and organised around a Cartesian equilibrium. No longer: the globalised socioeconomic activity now, in addition to numbers, is also based on ideas and innovations meaning it is no longer simple but complex; is not linear but non- linear and has to be organised around a holistic equilibrium. The socioeconomic enterprise in the new millennium is a network activity and because a network by definition has no centre of gravity, it makes it very difficult to manage and control. The global enterprise can hardly remain in a stable condition for long; its equilibrium changes rendering it a multi-equilibrium activity. It is for this reason, among others, that it makes no sense to talk about an equilibrium economy where many times it is the information and not supply-demand and price mechanism of the traditional factors which determine the equilibrium in the market. This is clearly observed these days when the markets undergo sudden fluctuations although the economic fundamentals have not changed at all and the rational economic agents behave more according to their perceptions than according to actual facts and realities.
The real equilibrium we should be interested in, and promote, is a holistic equilibrium composed of equilibrium between our socioeconomic system and the biological system; between economic growth and sustainable utilisation of the biological capital; between short-term economic value and long-term bioeconomic value; between quantity (pricing) and quality (valuing) in contrast to the fictitious equilibrium propagated for too many years by some economists enamoured by competition, selfishness and that all is fair in the grab for money . Such a comprehensive equilibrium is what we have to secure for achieving a sustainable society.
Bioeconomics is not concerned with the artificial market equilibrium but rather with the real equilibrium between the biologic and socioeconomic systems. A socioeconomic enterprise in the form of the bioeconomic activity is considered the real economic activity because it promotes production of goods and services needed by the majority of humankind and based on environmentally-friendly biotechnology rather than on the present artificial financiarised economy using up to 95 % of all monetary resources available in the global financial system for speculation and transactions. This is exactly what I have had in mind when I have discussed the importance of a "Bioeconomic Civil Society which has to be founded on these new principles in addition to the old ones of democracy, of plurality , free market activity and free communication media".
The bioeconomic theory, and by extension the bioeconomic growth theory is an alternative to, and very different from, the neoclassical growth theory according to which the hypercapitalist socioeconomic enterprise is carried out now. It is an innovative theory falling under what has been referred to as “social ingenuity”. I present the bioeconomic growth theory as an extension of the New (Endogenous) Growth Theory and although the proponents of this theory are really interested in industrial techniques for improving growth nevertheless they do acknowledge the importance of ideas as a production factor. The significance of innovative ideas and innovations as production factor resides in the fact that they are non-rival and that in contrast to the tendency of land and labour to produce diminishing returns over time ideas and innovations do not suffer from this disadvantage and they actually result in increasing returns for the socioeconomic process and for improving growth. This is depicted in Figure 1.
It turns out however, that the current accounting methods do not account for all the socioeconomic growth produced by the input of the traditional factors of production and there remains a residual portion that can only be explained by the infusion of new ideas leading to scientific and technological improvement. Although the traditional factors of production can maintain growth over the short-term ideas and innovations are essential ingredients for long-term growth. Bioeconomics with its innovative ideas resulting from syncretising biology and economics and its foundation firmly resting upon the biological, socioeconomic, environ- mental and ethical imperatives of our epoch can provide the underpinnings for exactly this type of growth because it will be biologically sustainable, economically viable, environmentally benign, socially just and ethically acceptable. Such socioeconomic growth must be measured by the bioeconomic accounting method taking into consideration both the traditional production factors and also the new ones thus providing for a holistic accounting procedure.
As long as mainstream economics remains a ‘ hard ‘ science in the cut-throat competitive sense, and the supply-demand and price mechanism are thought to be guided by the invisible hand of the market and is greatly influenced by perception and information rather than by the global geoeconomic realities there is little hope to transform the cruel competitive socioeconomic enterprise to a humane cooperative one. The bioeconomic activity founded on the global imperatives of biological resource depletion and environmental degradation will not be greatly affected by false perception and information or by rumours which travelling at electronic speed become in any case highly magnified, and also modified, on the way to final destination for the purpose of reaping easy profits in a short time.

bioecoFigure 1. Bioeconomics in Relation to Social Ingenuity

A socioeconomic activity according to the bioeconomic principles would achieve wealth creation and human prosperity without the harmful ingredients deemed necessary by economic optimists. They consider the synergism between the destructive competition, market capitalism and often-unethical scientific-technological progress as the sine qua non of economic equality (possibility of equal economic living standard) and social equity (egalitarian wealth distribution and access to all social services). There must be another way, a better way and there is: the bioeconomic way: the economics of cooperation and trust, the economics of justice, fair play and compassion. This innovative economy will enable us to recuperate our lost link with ourselves and with the biosphere as the competitive activity and the information overload have made us impersonal, less cooperative and trustful and less conscious of the damage we are causing to the biological foundation of life. The present socioeconomic activity has caused the loss of ‘temporal integration’ by making us oblivious of the sense of the past and leapfrogging to the future through the virtual present and not the real present where we can become conscious of our disastrous impact on our common home, the planet Earth and on our own species.
It can be said that Bioeconomics is really about daring to go against the tide and the dominant trends and values. These trends that have more than their endings in common are: materialism, consumerism, globalism, colonialism ( exploiting third world biological capital and human capital ), specialism and anthropocentrism. They are the products of the neoliberal, neoclassical capitalist socioeconomic activity underpinned by a Cartesian education system.
The concept of time, and especially the future, in the neoclassical capitalist socioeconomic system has been misunderstood and misused by linking it to the idea of progress meaning continuous economic growth through uninhibited utilisation of biological resources. As a member of an African tribe told a westerner “you have the clock but we have the time”.
The prevailing spirit of modernity has related progress to continuous material growth whereas in the postmodern era progress has to be linked to the less-is-more ideology and material growth and consumerism must be complemented with ethical and spiritual values and to proceed with conservation and recycling .In Bioeconomics, although the concept of time for me is also linked to the idea of progress, however I consider progress all that can be conserved and preserved in the realm of biological resources and the environment and to be complemented with a dignified standard of living for all by means of employment and comprehensive holistic health and education .
The neoclassical economic theory is part and parcel of the capitalist ideology with its multiple weaknesses such as asymmetry in wealth distribution, environmental problems, biological discontinuities and ethical uncertainties. The neoclassical economic theory with its underlying assumptions of independence of economic agents and independence of production factors is inadequate for an interdependent and interactive global economy where small events acting synergistically will cause large uncontrollable effects. This inadequacy arises from the fact that neoclassical economics does not address the real problems of a real world but is concerned with assumptions in an abstract autistic world.
Biological Economics by containing the science of biology in its theoretical foundation together with undeniable realities rather than intangible conjectures provides an alternative to the social-social theory of the social sciences. This alternative is the biological-social theory meaning that social events can have biological causes too as is quite often observed in the case of civil violence due to environmental problems and biological discontinuities. This alternative theory is also very necessary because the tremendous and limitless scale of global socioeconomic enterprise with its foundation in the economy of nature requires a more encompassing science with robust empirical methodology like biology to give an empirical underpinning to this vast scale, set a limit for it and account for the emergent problems. This alternative theory is further very useful because it provides a new framework for predicting the causes of civil strife.
The capitalist socioeconomic activity grounded in the neoclassical theory is a double zero-sum activity. On the one hand humanity’s gains are the losses of the biosphere and on the other the gains of a powerful and influential minority are the losses of the poor majority (in fact and in the long run we all lose; the rich, the poor and the biosphere although in the short run it may appear that the rich minority will take it all). A socioeconomic activity founded on the bioeconomic principles of biological sustainability, environmental integrity, economic equality and social equity and the ethics of enough is a win -win activity because it encourages bioeconomic capitalism as the foundation of an efficient socioeconomic enterprise through the processes of dematerialization and immaterilisation and having social capital as an important ingredient where a network of interacting compassionate individuals cooperate for the sake of public good in contrast to the industrial capitalism of the neoclassical economics favouring unlimited continuous growth through competitive maximum production and consumption with no limits in sight.
The concept of limits is an important concept regulating all biological processes occurring in nature. The goal of a socioeconomic enterprise cognizant of biological, environmental and socioeconomic limits can be accomplished through integrating the (ir) rational competitive mentality of H. economicus with the sensible cooperative mentality of H. bioeconomicus encouraging a model of socioeconomic enterprise based on reigning in our greedy desire to surpass all limits and on both competition and cooperation according to my proposed cooperative-competition model.
Bioeconomics is a postmodern science in the sense that solutions of the current societal problems require consideration of such concepts as quality, value, ethical judgement and the inclusion of various stakeholders in the decision-making process. Aggregating information from various sources and from various disciplines will no doubt result in some loss of quality and value and often blurring ethical judgement but nevertheless will conciliate antagonistic view points thus rendering it useful and relevant. Consultation with native people is of utmost importance in order to benefit from their traditional culture and knowledge which have a very long history and are valuable because survival of these people has depended on them .It is to be remembered though that traditional cultures are usually hostile to most aspect of modernity and therefore introduction of scientific-technical advances and market innovations to traditional societies has to be done with care and attention to their cultural idiosyncrasies.
Modern science through industrial-technical advances has transformed the socioeconomic, political and ethical physiognomy of human society and the biology of the environment too. All changes have resulted in maximising production, efficiency and ascendancy of profit motive rendering humanity more utilitarian, impersonal and less conscious of the damage inflicted upon the planet. At the same time solution of the interface problems due to this transformation will require more than merely policy decisions. They will also have to be complemented with scientific facts and concerns of stakeholders and ethical priorities. ‘True knowledge must really be objective and this means we are entering the realm of ethics because true knowledge though valueless must have a solid ethical foundation and what better than an ethical value foundation in the form of a postmodern ethics of knowledge’. It is a cliché that science finds, industry applies and humanity conforms. We have conformed for far too long and the time has arrived to choose and not to allow to be led by the nose to greed, self-interest and destructive competition.
Bioeconomics is a postmodern science because the objective facts of modern science have to be complemented with subjective knowledge of traditional values and cultural beliefs. Bioeconomics, by incorporating the traditional values of trust, cooperation, empathy and comradeship is thus proposed as a postmodernist science. Of course “ trust implies a leap of faith” and something which may turn out to be outside our grasp and almost impossible to achieve. Also “cooperation, not intellectual self-reliance, is the key virtue in any scientific community”. Difficulty in incorporating these factors may be due to “individualistic epistemology”, a weakness from which the holistic interdisciplinary science of bioeconomics does not suffer due to the fact that it is founded on the collective and cooperative epistemology . It advocates replacing the idea of progress through competition and continuous economic growth with a type of progress based on humane values and calls for a long-term strategy ensuring human bioeconomic (sustainable) existence.
Unlimited continuous socioeconomic growth and wealth creation in the capitalist society has resulted in the depletion of biological resources, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, economic inequality and social inequity. The question we are faced with is this: will slowing down the production process and stagnation of goods and wealth creation solve these problems or on the contrary even aggravate them? I believe they will be aggravated and that is why we need to continue with wealth creation but not through destructive competitive industrial capitalism but rather through the constructive cooperative bioeconomic capitalism. Although the latter form of wealth creation may not turn out to be as productive as the former, however, we should not be really dismayed as the shortfall will be compensated for by more profits (less externalities), by progress in our spiritual values and in various areas of scientific endeavour such as in biology (genetic engineering), agriculture (GMOs), medicine (organ transplantation and increase in life span) and technology (nano-engineering) among others. Of course all of these are charged with great ethical loads presenting humanity with serious challenges.
In other words, it is no longer acceptable to presume that all pronouncements with the scientific label have value, quality and certainty incorporated in them. Modernism was dominated by a relative degree of certainty of the competing capitalist and Marxist ideologies, belief in the superiority of western science and the mystique of its culture. Modernism and the associated idea of progress through continuous economic growth has led to hubris in anthropocentrism thus seeing humanity better and superior to all else. The process of socioeconomic globalisation and the many scientific-technical advances with ethical repercussions have become universal issues creating uncertainty and complexity in the socioeconomic and biological spheres of existence adding a degree of complexity and uncertainty hitherto unknown.
Economics is a good example of modern science if for no other reason than for externalising complex global problems suffering from uncertainty. Quality and irreversibility are the two issues that economics is still struggling with to resolve. Of course biology suffers from the same problem due to the second law of thermodynamics meaning that utilisation of high energy, low entropy biological resources with high quality transforms them through an irreversible process to low energy, high entropy low quality waste. Economists not knowing how to deal with quality and irreversibility have ignored them as externalities and accounting for them and trying to restore quality is what internalising is all about. Bioeconomics, on the other hand is postmodern in the sense that it reinforces not only ideas but also reinforces their integration to produce innovative emergent ideas by furnishing quality and spiritual values to the quantitative information in order to promote value plurality. Postmodern science, in addition to information from government and non-government sources ... ‘makes possible the coupling of scientific and non-scientific approaches to solving the complex interactive problems. ... This plurality of source of information is definitely a very strong point in favour of bioeconomics as a postmodern science.
Biological economics as a postmodern science can be thought of as a strategy for providing all that modern science has been incapable to do and has brushed aside under the rubric of externalities. It is concerned with the elucidation of processes in biological and socioeconomic systems and the interactions between them. For this purpose, solely quantitative analyses of modern science are not sufficient and the element of quality has to be incorporated in it. In the postmodern era both biology and economics are presented with new and unexpected challenges. Knowledge gained in the traditional way is not sufficient; it pertains to the natural and socioeconomic systems thought to be simple, linear and static. These systems are far from these conditions; they are complex, dynamic and operate under non-linear interactive conditions due to the presence of great interactivity between human beings and between them and the environment. It is exactly under these conditions when the long-cherished reductionist disciplinary solutions fail that we enter the realm of postmodern science whose greatest sinews are holism, interdisciplinarity, quality and value plurality.
In the previous decades methods of modern science were sufficient for dealing with problems which were considered simple and rather certain and enjoying a degree of value singularity. Under the present conditions of uncertainty and complexity of emergent problems when there is lack of trust between science and society and lack of affinity between science and policy there exists the best opportunity for developing a holistic science with a more sophisticated methodology; a postmodern science which is interdisciplinary and compensates for the discoveries of science and technology and the tensions produced by their consequences on the society. Problems affecting biology, the economy and the environment form an important group of emergent problems adding a new, uncertain and complex dimension to global security. People have to be made aware of their significance and their resolution will require cooperation between governments and the practice of environmental diplomacy in addition to a holistic interdisciplinary education and a functional educative system.
In summary, I present bioeconomics as a postmodern science due to all the aforementioned reasons and not postmodern as used by Derrida and others [for further clarification see my Response to the review of my book: JIE 14(1): 78].
Bioeconomics has also been developed due to my firm belief that syncretising biology and economics would lead to intellectual progress and would serve a learning purpose through a holistic interdisciplinary educative process .The reason for this unification is based on the fact that both biological and social sciences have human beings as common actors. While the former lays bare his conditions and how he functions the latter tries to clarify how he operates in his physical environment thus providing us with a comprehensive integrated picture of humankind. This new holistic educative process ‘resulting from the synthesis of theories of biology, economics and cognition to promote a holistic integrated educative process’ is what I have referred to as the bioeconomic educative process which ‘deconstructs the reductionist scientific rationality and provides a new one based on holistic and interdisciplinary rationality. Such an educative process will make it possible to discard the reductionist ideology ... and to promote a holistic culture of synthesis.’ Furthermore, this educative process rejects the science of maximisation in favour of the art of optimization.
"The bioeconomic educative process is based on the holistic philosophy of education about the environment..., through the environment and all of this for the environment using an interdisciplinary methodology". The modern globalised economy needs, now more than ever, optimisation of biological resources and also development and propagation of innovative ideas to create not only economic value but also biological value and always cognisant of the constraints in its path. This is to say that the bioeconomic educative process is not only a medium for creating bioeconomic value but also for learning how to learn. In considering in my book the strategies for achieving goals and objectives of sustainability and sustainable development I state that "Education is the one strategy that must take precedence over all the others important as they all are. ... Education must be considered the sine qua non for achieving sustainability. Education can provide the intellectual unity between the different strategies for sustainable development and sustainability in general. It will be through education that both developed and underdeveloped nations can be mobilized to modify their habits, attitudes and values in order to alter the polluted, resource-degenerated and ozone-depleted planet to a cleaner, more habitable and sustainable one".
"In the final analysis human survival may depend on our wish and ability to see how quickly we can transform the education system and its dinosauric instruction process. I submit that bioeconomics promoting holism and interdisciplinarity is a step in the right direction towards a bioeconomic educative process and for transforming the antiquated reductionist instruction process". It has the foundation for preparing the people with knowledge and skills necessary for the art of sustainable living through lifelong sustainable education.
The institutional economics is about observing rules and laws in carrying out economic transactions. It is against new initiatives and maintains that conformity and traditions should determine how economic transactions are carried out and that supply-demand and prices are best managed through collective action. The New Institutional Economics, on the other hand, maintains that individuals will gain in their economic transactions by paying attention to history (through cognition and cognitive skills to remember) that might have existed between the transacting individuals and also by belonging to institutions or groups which by possessing a more complex cultural repertoire and receiving cultural feedback will safeguard against scarcity, price hikes, opportunistic behaviour or any other misconduct detrimental to individuals. Adhesion to institutions will ensure individual’s gains in the long term although it may not be so in the short run.
This is also exactly the advantage of a socioeconomic enterprise based on the bioeconomic principles benefiting all participants in the long run. One of these principles is having strong ethical beliefs and for participants in the economic transactions to observe ethical conduct which if adhered to by all will facilitate the transaction and in addition will mitigate the need for, and the cost of, contracts.
Orthodox economics suffers from the great disadvantage of not having been able to deal with the concepts of uncertainty and irreversibility because these economists have not been able to make up their minds as to the fact that humanity is definitely and irreversibly destroying the foundation of life while the NIE by advocating the usefulness of institutions reduces uncertainty by “ providing structure to everyday life” and because institutions are “humanly devised constraints that shape human interactions”.
The global capitalist market economy according to the neoclassical model advocates transactions for the sake of short-term benefits in contrast to the bioeconomic activity, which encourages individuals to engage in cooperative socioeconomic enterprise, and for the sake of benefits in the long term. This is exactly where Bioeconomics and the NIE coincide because both will ensure durable sustainable gains for the individuals through just, cooperative and reciprocal transactions.
Human socioeconomic activity according to the bioeconomic principles should become institutionalized because as such human beings will be encouraged to partake of socioeconomic transactions through the agencies of cooperation, reciprocity and trust for increasing wealth thus ensuring long-term prosperity for all. This will transform the present zero-sum socioeconomic activity to a win-win enterprise where everybody will gain.
According to the Directors law, wealth creation is, and is distributed, for the benefits of the ruling class. Since the poor are hardly ever among the rulers then: how can they ever benefit from wealth creation? Revolution? Hardly recommendable . An alternative is through the bioeconomic law institutionalising the bioeconomic activity with its solid non-economic, as well as economic, components. What I am proposing is Institutional Bioeconomics, which is really a bioeconomic version of the NIE but with more fundamental organizational and institutional changes in the capitalist socioeconomic system and becoming instrumental in the establishment of institutions, which would facilitate a type of socioeconomic activity with minimum hardship to people and minimum damage to the environment.
If the number of a species is a valid indication of its success in the struggle for existence then parasites have been very successful and parasitic life should be considered normal in biology. Following this line of reasoning we can surmise that humanity with its exploding population is very successful too in carrying out a parasitic existence at the expense of the mother earth and if it continues as such it will kill the goose that lays the golden egg. It is, as yet to learn the conditions under which a socioeconomic parasitic life can be maintained for the long duration. This is what humanity is intending to embark upon now by trying to learn the appropriate conditions for a sustainable existence. One way to achieve this goal is by trying to optimize our existence by on this planet by institutionalising such non-economic factors as cooperation, trust, empathy, solidarity and reciprocity embodied in the science of Bioeconomics.
For the past two decades social theorist have endeavoured to determine how the advanced societies are evolving. They have shed some light on the matter by emphasising the importance of scientific rationality and the culture of a society in bringing about concordance between socioeconomic growth and environmental protection (Beck, 1992). But while the capitalist socioeconomic system in developed countries has reduced material scarcity and has increased wealth creation nevertheless social class cleavages are deepening and environ- mental problems are worsening.
These emergent problems differ from those faced by humanity in earlier centuries by being complex and interactive and extending through generations. They were not anticipated and have taken us by surprise in the sense that the common phrase “ I am hungry” of our ancestors has changed now to one of “ I am afraid” due to the fact that nature has not remained acquiescent and is extracting through ozone depletion and climate warming among others “ quiet and deep revenge.
The general consensus is that continuous socioeconomic growth and wealth creation has environmental degradation, depletion of biological resources and diminishing biological diversity as unavoidable by-products. "The capitalist socioeconomic system founded on the concepts of maximum production and maximum consumption is unrealistic! and it appears that this process cannot continue forever and has to come to a halt when marginal benefits from socioeconomic progress cease to compensate for detrimental environmental consequences. Is sustainability really important? Yes, because it might help to overcome the impasse the socioeconomic growth and development is mired in and because " The attractiveness of the concept of sustainability lies in the fact that it gives urgency to solutions of some old problems of socioeconomic development".
While it is accepted that the process of socioeconomic growth cannot continue indefinitely and that the process of development has to be re-modelled according to environmental, socioeconomic, cultural, biological and ethical imperatives it is not however, clear how the process of sustainable development can be carried out without severe social upheaval. Furthermore, it is important because it is an adaptive process ensuring the long-term survival of humankind in addition to a capitalist socioeconomic process ensuring the short-term prosperity. It is in relation to this latter process that we have to be on guard because " ... the aims and objectives of sustainable development may be sequestered for its own purposes". I consider the capitalist socioeconomic system with its neoclassical neoliberal model to be unrealistic and " ... not conducive to sustainable development ... and does not promote the objectives of sustainability".
Why do we have to be concerned with sustainability when according to evolutionary data and empirical evidence everything is transformed in the long run and follows the biological process of birth, growth and decay? The question we are faced with is: Is it possible to achieve both sustainable socioeconomic development and environmental protection by managing both in a sustainable and responsible manner? Also, how is the ever-increasing socioeconomic enterprise to be modified or changed to a sustainable system without risking social conflict? These have to be achieved when it is not at all clear what structural changes, organisational innovations and technological advances will have to be accomplished. However, ‘The shift from a growth economy to a sustainable one could be achieved through a an intermediate stage of what could be called restorative economy’. This is the time when society will have to embark on a transitional restorative stage before settling on a sustainable path of growth and development. It is at this time that the conservation principle “greatest good to the greatest number for the greatest time” will no longer be antagonistic to, and will be compatible with, the preservation principle of saving nature for its own sake.
The term sustainable development is inherently contradictory. ‘The fact is that sustainable development can be neither sustainable if it involves continuous economic growth nor can there be development if it is sustainable. Bioeconomic development however is not linked to the notion of sustainability and is not beholden to it. Any discourse on sustainability must start with a clarification of the meaning of the terms sustainability and sustainable development. ... a new paradigm for the process of development consistent with the biological and socioeconomic realities of resource dissipation, environmental degradation, biological uncertainties and also economic inequality and social inequity has been proposed. This is the bioeconomic development paradigm.
According to the “biological theory of cognition” and the system concept a human being as a living system is a cognitive system and the process of life is a cognitive process meaning that the system responds to its environment by continuous changes, which transform its reactions and behaviour through cognition by means of “structural coupling”. The significance of this for human bioeconomic system should be obvious by rendering it a ‘a quasi-cognitive system in the form of a bioeconomic development system making it more efficient in its production and less entropic in the utilisation of biological resources. ... To know is to develop which is to say that development is intrinsically associated with learning and the process of bioeconomic development is really a process of cognition’. It is urgent to operationalise the concept of sustainability but little gain has ensued ‘... mainly due to a theoretical vacuum" and also because "... of having a concept with a misleading diffuse terminology such as sustainable economic development’. " ... It is for all these reasons that I have proposed that bioeconomic development is really sustainable development. This is however, not simply changing one terminology for another and as has been discussed the change has serious implications for the process of development".
Nature and biological resources are transformed from being an external source of primary resources for human socioeconomic enterprise to an internal source through the process of capitalization. This is a novel way of introducing capital into the sustainability discourse. Monetary capital is used as a tool for conserving biological resources (rain forests), which is very different from its usual use for destruction. The use of capital as a conservation tool is consistent with the goals of bioeconomic (sustainable) development in that " ... the monetary wealth so created should be invested in job-creating enterprises rather than used for production of luxury items..." It is hoped this idea will gradually gain precedence over the destructive exploitative use.
Syncretising biology and economics thus achieving consilience between them as exemplified by Bioeconomics makes possible integrated holistic solutions to the problems of sustainability and sustainable development. "This is what Bioeconomics is all about and why I propose bioeconomic principles as the real foundation of socioeconomic enterprise and bioeconomic development as the real and sustainable socioeconomic development". The aim is to externalise wealth (making sure it reaches the majority) but internalise costs (making sure that only the culprits pay for them). This is the distinguishing feature of bioeconomic (sustainable) development.
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Editor s Note.
Considering the length of my own contribution I forgo the usual summaries of the contributing authors.
Synergism of many minds will be very fruitful for the nascent science of bioeconomics. I invite all interested to cooperate and start constructive dialogue to promote the growth and maturity of an-as-yet-little known science of bioeconomics still in its infancy.
I would like to thank Dr. Ruth Taplin for offering the Journal for this special issue and all the authors for their hard work. They have had to integrate the theory and concepts of bioeconomics in their field of specialization, a task that by my own endeavour to develop bioeconomics, and also by what they tell me, has not been easy at all.

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