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Earth Day 2009: Ways in Which Biotechnology is Helping to Save the Planet

April 21, 2009
In recognition of Earth Day, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is encouraging people to think beyond the usual ways we can help save the Earth by highlighting ten ways biotechnology is contributing to a more environmentally sustainable world.

Biotech breakthroughs help reduce air emissions and water pollution while enabling the development of sustainable, Earth-friendly products.
“Earth Day is a day to appreciate the beauty and health of our planet and recognize the critical role each of us must play to sustain it,” said BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood.  “I am proud to recognize and celebrate the innovative products and technologies made by the men and women of the biotechnology community that are helping to increase the environmental sustainability of our planet for generations to come.”

Developments in Food and Agriculture

Agricultural biotechnology allows farmers to grow more food on existing farmland while reducing water and fuel consumption.  New developments allow farmers to address the challenges of producing food in less-than-adequate growing conditions with drought and flood-resistant crops.  In fact, growing biotech crops can actually help enhance air, water and soil quality and overall sustainability.  Agricultural biotechnology allows farmers to use less pesticide on their crops and helps reduce soil tillage, fossil fuel use, and runoff from farmers’ fields.
“The cultivation of food and crops affects everyone on the planet; not just by bringing food to their plates, but also ensuring that we’re doing it in the most environmentally friendly way possible to encourage the best use of our limited resources,” said Sharon Bomer, executive vice president, Food and Agriculture Section, BIO.  “Through farming practices like no-till agriculture and crops that can thrive even on marginal land, biotechnology is helping to feed and fuel the world in a much more sustainable manner.”

Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology

New industrial and environmental biotechnology advances are helping to make manufacturing processes cleaner and more efficient by reducing toxic chemical pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.  Additionally, renewable biofuels from algae and other cellulosic materials decrease greenhouse gases while reducing our dependence on oil.  Bioplastic is another product that is available today and can substitute for petroleum-based plastics, replacing waste destined for a landfill with biodegradable, compostable consumer products.
“People already know they can recycle things like plastic and that companies can take action to clean up their pollution,” stated Brent Erickson, executive vice president, Industrial and Environmental Section, BIO.  “What biotechnology has enabled us to do is eliminate toxic pollutants and petroleum-based products before they ever make it into our atmosphere, streams or landfills.”


For a more recent update to how biotechnology is helping to save the planet, read Celebrating Earth Day and GMOs, publish in May 2016.