Time and time again, new studies show that consumers’ support of biotechnology greatly increases the more aware they are of the benefits this important technology can offer. Last week, a new survey found 9 out of 10 Iowa shoppers would be more likely to buy biotech foods with better nutritional value.
Last month, the International Food Information Council demonstrated that consumers have no problem buying value-added biotech foods, with a wide array of health, sensory and environmental benefits all boosting support.
Farmers clearly recognize the benefits, elsewise they wouldn’t have made ag-biotech fastest adopted crop technology in history. For farmers, though, widely-recognized benefits like increased yields and disease-resistance are readily apparent. However, biotechnology offers a much wider range of benefits than most people realize, and not just for food! With that in mind, we highlight some biotech benefits with unsung impacts:
- Medical Uses – While biotech foods get the media attention, biotechnology has many important medical applications. It’s currently used to produce insulin that is chemically identical to the insulin protein made in healthy human bodies. Plus, biotech insulin can be produced more quickly and efficiently than the alternative (extracting it from the pancreas of cows and pigs).
- Restoring Biodiversity – Due to factors such as disease and habitat loss, many species of plants are endangered, or no longer present, in their original habitats. Biotechnology has great potential to restore these species, with the American Chestnut being a great example.
- Enzymes in the Dairy Industry – Enzymes are commonly used in the production of dairy products like cheese and yogurt. Some of these enzymes, such as rennet, are produced using biotechnology. This spares the lives of calves, lambs or goats as “natural” rennet is extracted from their stomachs.
- Improved Textile Production – Enzyme use is very common in the textile industry, assisting in the production of fabrics for clothing, furniture and more. Biotechnology has replaced harsh chemical use with enzymes, making the process less toxic, more environmentally friendly, and reducing costs.
- Sustainable Tillage Practices – Conservation tillage, a method of cultivation that leaves the previous year’s crop residue on fields before and after planting, reduces soil erosion and runoff, while returning nutrients to the soil. The introduction of certain biotech crops has led directly to a sharp increase in no-till farming.
At the end of the day, biotechnology is simply a tool, not a solution by itself. Still, a tool with the potential to help us achieve a major spectrum of benefits across so many facets of life and should be embraced, and greater knowledge of its many benefits is proven to boost acceptance!