New Green Revolution to Increase Food Production Using biotechnology, scientists are working to unlock the potential of plants to produce crops in environments that are adversely affected by pests, drought, disease, poor soil or growing conditions. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), last year 8.5 million farmers - almost 8 million of which are considered “subsistence” farmers, planted over 200 million acres of genetically modified crops in 21 countries. Genetically modified crops currently being cultivated include cotton, papaya, soybeans and cassava.The “Green Revolution” of the 1960s relied on upfront investments by farmers in equipment, irrigation, fertilizers and fuel. This meant that many small-scale, subsistence farmers missed out on a large portion of the benefits, whether in the U.S. or sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s “New Green Revolution” embeds the advancements in the seeds, making the benefits available to everyone.
| While the general goals of biotechnology have always been the same, it was Gregor Mendel’s experiments in the 1800s that enabled science to take some of the chance element out of the process. Today’s technology allows scientists to remove even more of the chance element and accelerate new development. Biotechnology is able to tap into natural defense systems in plants, triggering self-protection mechanisms. Also, these plants can be induced to produce compounds that serve as selective biopesticides that are toxic to specific, targeted insect species while being harmless to humans, animals, fish, birds or beneficial insects.According to ISAAA’s predictions, the next decade of biotechnology will bring advancements in more crops and innovations in surprising areas that will greatly surpass the first decade of commercial biotechnology. The right mix of innovation and regulation will allow biotechnology to fulfill expectations – and fill empty stomachs.“Biotech Crops Offer Hope to Millions,” Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin)|