Académie des technologies

Biotechnologies and the environment. Academic communication. Ed. Le Manuscrit : Avril 2010

Biotechnologies and the Environment

A NATF Academic Communication. Ed. Le Manuscrit : April 2010

Biotechnologies rely on certain properties of micro-organisms, animal or vegetable cells, cell constituents, notably enzymes, in order to create new products, new production processes or new services.

Biotechnologies are usually exclusively associated with GMBs and carry a generally negative connotation in France, even though their impact in the domain of public health is generally seen as positive. This vision stems largely from the fact that the benefits are not clearly understood and therefore are not “visible”. Faced with the difficulty of appreciating the risk factors and a tendency to reject the technologies – given that they are seen to be an ‘instrumentalisation’ of the living realms – it is not easy to restore confidence of end-users in any technological progress that derives from life sciences.

And yet biotechnologies are present everywhere and have existed for a long, long time, for example in beer-brewing and, wine fermentation and bread making. In more recent times, we find applications in food and chemical industries, in production of renewable energies and waste treatment processes.

Far from having a negative effect on the environment, biotechnologies can represent an advantage for companies who integrate environmental issues and preservation seriously in their development policies.

Without even trying to make a pro domo defence of biotechnologies and limiting the arguments to environmental spin-offs when implemented, the examples set out in this report illustrate the extent to which biotechnologies can have a positive impact on preservation, or even restoration, of our environment in fields as varied as agriculture, solid waste disposal and effluent water treatment, health sectors and the chemical industries at large.