As a society we are receiving clear signals that many chemicals used in conventional agriculture are associated with alarming health and environmental effects. From human to ecological health impacts, there are growing concerns about how we farm. In contrast, ‘Sustainable Agriculture’ describes a robust and balanced agricultural system to which many increasingly aspire. There are many unknowns in the details of how such an agricultural system would work, what inputs would supply it, and what technologies to employ in the transition. We do know, however, that Green Chemistry innovations will be key to transitioning to a more sustainable agricultural future.
Where are we on the path of change – are we close to replacing some of the most egregious agricultural chemicals or is the technology gap wide? What are Green Chemistry’s strengths and weaknesses in approaching these issues? Are there technologies available that could benefit from clear demonstration of market demand? How can we be sure that these new chemicals are safe? Interaction between green chemists and the field of conventional agriculture, is trending upward fast, as pressures to develop biofuels and biomaterials is mounting. The missing link in this relationship is that most green chemists developing bio-based materials do not demand feedstocks that have been sustainably produced. Closing this loop of awareness and interaction is a challenge to place before the field of green chemistry.