Can biotechnology participate in a sustainable agriculture?
In general, biotechnology, particularly genetic engineering, is not a fruitful approach in the quest for a sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture solves problems by understanding and adjusting the elements of the system to achieve its goals. The approach minimizes the use of off-farm products, such as pesticides and fertilizers, for both economic and environmental reasons. Agricultural biotechnology is basically an industry that develops products, often expensive products, priced to cover the costs of research and development. In general, new products are of minor importance to sustainable agriculture. Moreover, such products may pose risks, some unique, to human health and the environment. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food and Environment Program promotes the transition of agriculture into an economically and environmentally sustainable system. We define a sustainable agriculture as one that is both highly productive and protective of the natural resources on which fut