Green biotechnology refers to biological techniques to plants with the aim of improving the nutritional quality, quantity and production economics. such as production of disease-resistant or UV-resistant plants, or plants that have superior qualities, by means of genetic modification. Other examples include production of biofuels, such as ethanol or methane, from crops such as corn, or even from marine algae grown at land-based production facilities.
In 1996, the first genetically modified crops were cultivated in the USA. In 2009, 14 million farmers in 25 countries used GM crops, the overwhelming majority of whom (13 million) were small-scale farmers in developing and emerging countries. The annual global acreage has increased to more than 134 million hectares worldwide.
Green biotechnology pays off economically. This can be seen in the rising number of farmers who opt for GM crops. GM seed tends to be more expensive but in return, it reduces expenses in other areas, such as the cost of pesticides, machines and labour. But above all: yields generally increase considerably, because plants own mechanisms protect them from harmful insects and more effective weed management reduces harvest losses which used to be considered inevitable. In 2010, after long political delay, another GM crop was approved for cultivation for the first time since 1998: the Amflora potato, with a modified starch composition exclusively processed in the starch industry.
Green biotechnology involves the use of environmentally friendly solutions as an alternative to traditional industrial agriculture, horticulture and animal breeding processes.
- use of bacteria to facilitate the growth of plants
- development of pest-resistant grains
- engineering of plants to express pesticides
- use of bacteria to assure better crop yields instead of pesticides and herbicides
- production of superior plants by stimulating the early development of their root systems
- use of plants to remove heavy metals such as lead, nickel, or silver, which can then be extracted ("mined") from the plants
- genetic manipulation to allow plant strains to be frost-resistant
- use of genes from soil bacteria to genetically alter plants to promote tolerance to fungal pathogens
- Use of bacteria to get plants to grow faster, resist frost and ripen earlier.