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Earth Day 2012: Biotech Contributions to Sustainability

April 18, 2012
This Sunday, April 22, the world celebrates Earth Day as the biotech industry continues to do its part to make the agriculture industry more sustainable. Biotech allows us to meet the food production demands of a growing population in an economical way while lessening environmental impact.

Reducing Emissions
Low or no-till agriculture, in limited use prior to 1996, has enabled farmers to shift to simpler, more effective agronomic practices that better contain carbon in the soil. This leads to improved soil health and water retention, reduced pesticide runoff and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In 2009, the combined savings of carbon emissions from biotech crops was equivalent to removing almost 8 million cars from the road.

Conserving Land and Water
New developments help American farmers produce crops that use water more efficiently. Biotech-derived crops also allow for higher productivity on land currently under cultivation, preventing the conversion of tropical forests and land used for other, non-agricultural purposes to farmland. A 2011 study showed that without using biotech-derived crops to produce the 229 million tons of food, feed and fiber that farmers produced globally from 1996-2009, farmers would have had to convert an estimated 185 million additional acres to farmland.

Ensuring Energy Security
The solution to America’s energy security challenge lies in applying innovative biotechnology to convert biomass to advanced biofuels. Biofuels are made from everything from corn to soybeans to sugar beets to wood and grasses and even algae. Biobased feedstocks offer key environmental and economic advantages over crude oil as those that replace fossil fuels can actually reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases by fixing atmospheric carbon.

Preventing Polution with Industrial Biotechnology
Industrial biotechnology, holds immense promise for transforming a wide variety of industrial processes by preventing pollution, reducing costs, conserving natural resources, and delivering innovative products to improve our quality of life. It is also creating new markets for traditional agricultural crops and crop residues as renewable feedstocks, chemical intermediates, and energy sources. Learn more.

To learn more about how biotech is making farming earth-friendly, download BIO’s 2012 Earth Day fact sheet!