is simply defined as the development of products by using a biological process.
Production may be carried out by using intact organisms of bacteria,
fungi and other microbes, or by using natural substances created by the
organisms, such as enzymes. The United States, and specifically California, is a world
leader in the area of new biotechnology, a multi billion dollar industry.
The use of
new biotechnology for cleaning up major environmental concerns may be in its
infancy, but practical applications are underway.
Many problems associated with water, air, and soil contaminants can be
fixed with new biotechnology. Modern
biotechnology is currently being used in soils for growing better crops, in
wastewater for eliminating odors and meeting regulatory requirements, in toxic
waste clean-up and many other areas.
There is a
dilemma with biotechnology concerning on-going research.
What takes place on a small scale under controlled laboratory conditions
is completely different than what occurs in a large scale "real world"
situation. An example is in cheese
manufacturing where thousands of pounds are made at one time with microbes added
prior to aging. It would be very
difficult to make a one pound batch with the same characteristics as a large
batch because of the transformations caused by the microbes and enzymes.
With new biotechnology, large projects generally outperform smaller test
is the big winner as modern biotechnology progresses. Past attempts for the long
term control of nematode and phylloxera in vineyards with strong chemicals have
had limited success. However, safe
methods, using biotechnology, can supply special nutrients for the beneficial
microbes in the soil. Several
microbial strains, including actinomycetes, which are typically native in the
soil, produce enzymes that open the skin of the damaging nematode or phylloxera,
diminishing their population. The
soil comes alive with beneficial creatures that can naturally control pest and
disease problems. In addition, the
trillions of beneficial microbes work to adjust pH, make nutrients more
available, improve plant health and increase crop quality and yields.
industry has had difficulty dealing with wastewater problems.
Sewage treatment plants around the world have included the use of native
microbes that exist in their conventional treatment systems.
By using biotechnology, the treatment process can be optimized with the
proper strains of selected microbes. These
microbes are more efficient at eating the waste, which causes high Biochemical
Oxygen Demand (BOD) in the water. Special
nutrients enable the microbes to reproduce and thrive in the system.
The treatment plant becomes more efficient without incurring the major
expense of building larger facilities. The
waste is more completely broken down for safer discharge, the BOD is decreased,
and the corresponding odors are significantly reduced or eliminated.
and hog operations that discharge wastewater into ponds or fields are also able
to benefit from new biotechnology by lowering the nitrate concentration of their
waste stream as well as eliminating odors associated with the waste.
For instance, dairy wastewater is loaded with sanitizers and
disinfectants that keep our milk supply safe for drinking.
While these products help ensure the safety of our milk, they cause
problems for the useful microbes in the wastewater.
By treating the wastewater with the proper strains of microbes and
nutrients, the sanitizers, disinfectants, and manure are broken down prior to
field application. As a result, the
crops benefit from a more productive soil.
Food processing companies can also handle many of their environmental
waste problems by using modern biotechnology.
world faces many environmental challenges that can be effectively resolved using
biotechnology. The focus on
handling these challenges should be to treat the waste on-site and avoid
transferring the problem to a landfill or municipal sewer system. Modern
biotechnology can meet these challenges. This
safe method of resolving complex problems is rapidly emerging as the most cost
effective solution available.
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