Biotechnology has the potential to provide a wide range of benefits to consumers, the environment and the developing world. Researchers are developing varieties of crops that have more essential nutrients, resist harmful pests and diseases, and that can flourish in harsh climate conditions.
Biotech varieties of crops like pest-resistant
corn and herbicide-tolerant soybeans are planted widely throughout
the world. In 2003, American farmers alone planted over 96
million acres of biotech corn, cotton and soybeans crops.
Worldwide, biotech crops were grown on more than 145 million
For Florence Wambugu, Kenyan researcher
and former director of the International
Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications AfriCenter,
biotech crops are "technology in the seed" allowing
farmers to grow better, more nutritious, and hardier crops
with fewer inputs. And, in developing countries, where hunger
and malnutrition are ever-present threats, these crops offer
new tools in the fight against harsh climates and poor soil
Scientists are also investigating the viability of nutrient-enriched crops that provide direct benefits to consumers. Continuing research focuses on methods to increase the level of vitamin A in rice, a staple food for much of the world and a critical nutrient in disease prevention. Researchers also hope to develop nuts, wheat and other foods with reduced levels of allergens.
With the continued advances in biotechnology, producers can provide consumers with a more nutritious, abundant and higher quality food supply.