Environment

This section highlights case studies where biotechnology is being used to address some environmental issues. Biotechnology has the potential for many positive impacts on the environment. For example, it can be used to:

  • support work on recovering threatened species
  • control or even eradicate introduced predators and pests
  • remove wastes and pollution from the environment.

However, it is important to consider that scientific decisions are never without risk. They can also be coloured by the particular worldview of the scientists trying to solve the problem. For example, a palaeontologist, who studies the history of the earth over millions of years, brings a very different understanding of species extinction to an environmental debate than an environmental biologist.

It is also important to think about actions taken based on conflicting advice and how they are weighed up. These decisions may have the potential to deprive future generations of their right to determine some aspects of their lives.

Biotechnology, as it relates to the environment, usually means introducing a new organism into an existing situation. The food and agriculture section of Biotechnology Online also investigates case studies on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the potential environmental impact of releasing these organisms.

To prevent environmental damage and to preserve our biodiversity, all potential risks and benefits must be properly assessed before the release of any GMO.

Humans and the environment - work sheet [PDF 28kb | 2 pages]