Growing green agriculture

While green growth has been paid a great deal of lip service by policymakers, business leaders and other stakeholders, few concrete strategies have been put in place. Perhaps surprisingly, even in agriculture, most OECD countries still do not have solid plans in place for pursuing green growth in this sector. 

Nevertheless, a boost may be at hand from a very small source, according to Policy Instruments to Support Green Growth in Agriculture.

Nanotechnologies (sometimes referred to as “molecular manufacturing”), which employ materials measured on the nano-scale–that’s about one-billionth of a metre–are leading to potentially revolutionary technologies in a variety of industries, including agriculture and food. Here, advances in nanotechnologies hold out the promise of fostering green growth by helping to increase productivity and improve the use of resources, reduce post-harvest loss, improve product quality and increase the competitiveness of agricultural producers. Nanotechnology can potentially benefit the agro-food sector in several key areas, including sustainable production, plant and animal health, food processing and packaging, as well as in reducing the environmental impact of agricultural operations.

Investment in countries, such as Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Switzerland, the US and countries of the European Union, has been growing, and a wide range of nanotechnology applications are currently being developed and commercialised.

But there are potential downsides too. Nanotechnologies could, in themselves, constitute a specific source of pollution, which may be more difficult to treat than conventional pollution. A study on nanopesticides used in the treatment of pears, for example, found that they entered the fruits more easily than standard pesticides. A fuller understanding of the impact of nanomaterials on health and the environment needs to be established if regulations are to cope with rapid advances in nanotechnology. In the context of green growth, these policy challenges highlight the importance of assessing the impact of nanotechnology from a life-cycle perspective that considers the full range of economic, environmental and societal implications today and in the future.

ISBN: 9789264203518  

See and

©OECD Observer No 297, Q4 2013

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Do you know the OECD’s web ending? Or which Serbian American engineer is famous for his electric cars? Try our latest OECD Observer crossword. It’s full of fun facts, simplex in style, and gives you the solution at the tip of a button. You can time yourself too.
  • French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron came to the OECD on 18 September for a webcast discussion on economic reforms, inequality and the outlook, with OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. You can watch the event by clicking on the photo.
  • The UN summit on the Sustainable Development Goals is just over a week away, and the OECD will be there in force. See our special SDG webpage.
  • Climate change: “We should not disagree when scientists tell us we have a window of opportunity–10-15 years–to turn this thing around” argues Senator Bernie Sanders.
  • Passionate about international taxation? The Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law is currently looking for a Research and Teaching Associate at the Christian Doppler Laboratory. For further information, click here.
  • In the long-run, the EU benefits from migration, says OECD Head of International Migration Division Jean-Christophe Dumont.
  • Is technological progress slowing down. Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • An employee prepares breakfast in front of the Eiffel tower at the Parisian luxury hotel Le Plaza Athenee, France July 30, 2015. Nowhere in the world has more accommodation available on Airbnb than Paris. Now the home-sharing website that has transformed budget travel to the French capital is giving its super-deluxe hotels a fright too (©REUTERS/Stephane Mahe).
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on
  • On 19-20 September, come and visit the OECD to learn more about our home and our work.
  • Low interest rates here to stay for half a century, says OECD director Adrian Blundell-Wignall.
  • OECD speak on support it will offer to Greek
  • Bill Gates visited the OECD on 26 June. He met with the Secretary-General Angel Gurría to discuss areas of collaboration with his foundation and participated at a briefing session on official development assistance modernisation with OECD experts.
  • The People’s Republic of China decided to enhance longstanding collaboration with the OECD and to join the OECD Development Centre, in a historic visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on 1 July to the OECD in Paris.
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • One dollar in aid for trade generates eight dollars in extra trade for all developing countries and 20 dollars for low-income countries. Read OECD Secretary General's post on the newly released Aid for Trade at a glance 2015.
  • Catherine Mann, OECD Chief Economist, explains on Bloomberg why "too much bank lending can slow economic growth".
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .
  • Come va la vita in Italia? How's life in Italy? The OECD Better Life Index is an interactive online platform in seven languages that goes beyond GDP by offering important insights into measuring well-being and quality of life. Try it for yourself!
  • The IMF calls for a decisive energy subsidy reform in order to use the freed resources to meet critical public spending needs and to reduce pollution ahead of the Paris climate change summit.
  • Have a look at these posters representing a world without fundamental rights at work – including child labour, forced labour and inequality. Read more about this ILO image competition here.

Most Popular Articles


What issue are you most concerned about in 2015?

Euro crisis
Global warming
International conflict

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2015