Biotechnology of food production
With an ever-growing global population and rising food prices, the task of feeding the world is going to become more challenging and is just one reason to capitalize on the benefits of biotechnology. Food biotechnology can help us meet this challenge. Use of biotech plants can produce more food on less land, by reducing the amount of crops lost to disease and pests. It can reduce CO2 emissions from the farming process, the amount of pesticides used to produce foods, and in the future, the amount of water needed to grow crops. Researchers are also continually looking at ways they can enhance the nutritional value of foods. This fact sheet will examine how biotechnology contributes these benefits and what they mean for the environment, the consumer and the farmer.
What is Food Biotechnology?
Modern food biotechnology increases the speed and precision with which scientists can improve food traits and production practices. For centuries prior to the development of this technology, farmers have spent generations crossbreeding plants or animals to obtain the specific beneficial traits they were looking for and avoid the traits they did not want. The process not only took a lot of time and effort, but the final outcome was far from guaranteed. Today, food biotechnology utilizes the knowledge of plant science and genetics to further this tradition. Through the use of modern biotechnology, scientists can move genes for valuable traits from one plant to another. This process results in tangible environmental and economic benefits, that are passed on to the farmer and the consumer1.
Biotechnologies at Work for Smallholders: Case Studies from Developing Countries in Crops, Livestock and Fish (Occasional Papers on Innovation in Family Farming)