Innovations in biotechnology can help address the growing global demand for food and fiber and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, DuPont Executive Vice President James C. Borel, told attendees of the BioJapan 2009 World Business Forum.
“Through biotechnology, we have the opportunity to transform how we produce and distribute food and how we source energy and materials,” Borel said.
Borel noted that food security is increasingly being recognized as a key to security. He said plant biotechnology will be a critical tool to doubling global agricultural output by 2050 and helping provide food security to the 9 billion people expected to be on the planet. He also noted the role biotechnology can play in addressing the need for renewably sourced energy and materials as solutions are sought to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Borel gave examples of how the DuPont investment of more than $1 billion in research and development annually is addressing mega trends:
- Increased Food Production: Investments in advanced plant breeding are increasing food production today with innovations such as Y Series Soybeans from DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred, which have 5-10 percent more yield.
- Reducing Dependence on Fossil Fuels: A versatile fiber from DuPont called Sorona® has all the positive attributes of nylon, but features an environmentally improved manufacturing process using 100 percent naturally sourced ingredients. Demand for this fiber and other renewably sourced materials have more than doubled since market entry two years ago. DuPont biotechnology also is key to the development of biobutanol, an advanced biofuel being developed in partnership with BP. A joint venture was formed earlier this year – Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC – to market and commercialize the technology by 2012. A joint venture with Danisco is also working on cellulosic ethanol with intention to be operational in 2012.
Borel noted that the potential of biotechnology to make a difference is greatest where the biggest challenges exist.
“Emerging markets have perhaps the most to gain from biotechnology,” he said. “The positive impacts of biotechnology will be especially dramatic for people in developing countries because the technology is size neutral and can efficiently deliver increases in volume and quality of crops.”
Though adoption of plant biotechnology has been at a rapid pace, Borel emphasized the importance of continually working to keep consumers informed about the technology and working tirelessly to manage it carefully.
“Transparency of information with our key stakeholders is key to public understanding and consumer confidence,” said Borel. “But it will be our stewardship of the technology — how we use it, manage it and regulate it — that will ultimately determine how quickly and how fully the potential of the technology will be realized.”