The expanding global population is placing ever-increasing demands on land, water, energy and natural resources, and the use and consumption of these resources have an impact on the global environment. Biotechnology promises global agriculture and forestry that is both more productive and environmentally sustainable.
Stronger, More Sustainable Crops
Biotech crops result in far less carbon dioxide being emitted than traditional crops. In 2007, biotech crops decreased carbon dioxide emissions as much as removing 6.3 million cars from the road for a year. Genetically enhanced herbicide tolerant (HT) crops eliminate the need for tilling or plowing. Untilled soil has higher moisture content, and less often erodes or emits carbon dioxide.
Droughts and floods kill crops around the world. To increase future yields, agricultural biotech companies are developing marker-assisted selection and plant transgenic technology to develop drought-tolerant corn, flood-tolerant rice and other crop varieties that are more tolerant of environmental stresses.
The Future of Global Agriculture
Biotechnology scientists are developing plants that use nitrogen efficiently, to enhance plant growth with less fertilizer. Using genetic engineering, experts are inserting genes associated with efficient nitrogen use into rice, corn, wheat and other crops.
Scientists are genetically engineering crops to thrive in groundwater with high salt content. Researchers have reported success with rice, canola and tomato crops.
There are advances forthcoming in forestry. Biotech trees promote disease resistance and environmental stress tolerance, the latter resulting in trees tolerant to cold weather.