How can Biotechnology benefit you?

The invisible revolution 

A short video explaining the application of biotechnology in everyday life.

 

Biotechnology - Promising a Brighter Future for Europe and the World

According to the OECD definition, biotechnology is: “The application of science and technology to living organisms, as well as parts, products and models thereof, to alter living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods and services.”  Simply put, it is a technology that is based on biology, which uses living organisms to make innovative products that improve our lives. Our industry works in healthcare, agriculture and industry to meet life’s greatest needs in a carefully regulated way.

Biotechnology has been used for more than 6,000 years for lots of interesting and practical purposes: making food such as bread and cheese, preserving dairy products and fermenting beer.  Although we do not always realise it, biotechnology is a huge part of our everyday lives, from the clothes we wear and how we wash them, the food we eat and the sources it comes from, the medicine we use to keep us healthy and even the fuel we use to take us where we need to go, biotech already plays, and must continue to play, an invaluable role in meeting our needs.  No other industry is better placed to enhance quality of life and respond to society’s ‘Grand Challenges’ of tackling an ageing and ever increasing population, healthcare choice and affordability, resource efficiency, food security, climate change and energy shortages.

From new drugs that address our medical needs and fight epidemics and rare diseases, to industrial processes that use renewable feedstock instead of crude oil to lower the impact on the environment and crops that are able to grow in harsh climatic conditions and ensure safe and affordable food, biotech can and will pay economic, social and environmental dividends.

All of these bold technologies, and those that are still in the pipeline, promise a brighter future for Europe and the world.  But for this to happen, the industry requires sounds policy decisions that support innovation and risk–taking as well as a public that is well informed about how biotech is creating a healthier, greener, more productive and more sustainable economy.

Click on the image to view an enlarged version of the EuropaBio poster describing the benefits of biotechnology in our everyday live.

Healthcare biotech is helping you to...

Live healthier for longer by providing you with medical choices and solutions

  • Healthcare biotech is already benefiting more than 350 million patients around the world through the use of biotech medicine to treat and prevent every day and chronic illnesses including heart attacks, stroke, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, leukaemia, diabetes, hepatitis and other rare or infectious diseases.
  • Healthcare biotech enables the development of therapies for rare diseases that are often debilitating and life threatening and that effect 20 to 30 million Europeans and their families.
  • Healthcare biotech is estimated to account for more than 20% of all marketed medicines and it is estimated that by 2015, 50% of all medicines will come from biotech.
  • Healthcare biotech increases the effectiveness and safety of treatments as well as reducing the use of ineffective treatments and adverse reactions through its approach on Personalised Medicine that works to diagnose what one patient’s problems are precisely and then work to better adapt the healthcare solutions to suit their specific needs.
  • Healthcare biotech comprises more than 1700 companies and a market worth more than €17 billion in Europe alone.
  • Healthcare biotech creates jobs. Between 200 and 2008, employment in all departments of companies working on the development of orphan drugs for rare disease patients in the EU more than doubled, showing an increase of 158% according to the Office of Health Economics, UK.

 

Industrial biotech is helping you to...

Minimise mankind’s impact on the environment while also boosting manufacturing output and creating more jobs

  • Industrial biotech uses enzymes and micro-organisms to make products which improve the effectiveness of detergents so that clothes can be washed at lower temperatures and the production of paper and pulp, food, clothing, chemicals and bioenergy is done in a more environmentally efficient way using less energy, less water and producing less waste.
  • Industrial biotech transforms agricultural products and organic waste into other substances with the aim of substituting the need for crude oil as a starting material to help fight global warming.
  • Industrial biotech can save energy in production processes and lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. WWF estimates a reduction of between 1 billion and 2.5 billion tonnes of C02 equivalent per year by 2030.
  • Industrial biotech offers an alternative and safer form of global energy instead of diminishing and volatile fossil fuels.
  • Industrial biotech is an industry in which Europe is a world leader. Europe produces about 75% of the world’s enzymes.
  • Industrial biotech is worth nearly €2 trillion and provides approximately 22 million jobs in Europe alone across sectors as diverse as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, chemicals and biofuels.

 

Agricultural biotech is helping you to…

Have access to safe and affordable food while enabling more food to be grown using less land, less energy, less water and producing less CO2 emissions

  • Agricultural biotech can increase yields by 6%-30% on the same amount of land, helping to protect biodiversity and wildlife. 
  • Agricultural biotech offers built-in protection against insect damage, resulting in a decrease in pesticide spraying.
  • Agricultural biotech helps reduce fuel use and C02 emissions by requiring less tillage and helps farmers grow more food, reliably, in harsher climatic conditions.  In 2009, this was equivalent to removing 17.7 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing 7.8 million cars from the road for one year.
  • Agricultural biotech produces food containing fewer toxins such as mycotoxins, a toxic fungus that infects plants damaged by pests.
  • Agricultural biotech protects soil from erosion and compaction by enabling farmers to reduce the need to plough their fields and the need to travel up and down their fields to manage weeds or pests because the agbiotech plants protect themselves against both. By disturbing soil less, this also increases the efficiency of water usages by keeping the water in the soil.
  • By offering new, improved and adapted agricultural crops such as drought or saline resistant plants, agricultural biotech can contribute to meeting the Millennium Development Goals on reducing poverty and can help increase food security for a growing global population.