Biotechnology Unzipped: Promises and Realities (1997)
Joseph Henry Press (JHP)
The views expressed in this book are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academies.
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Chapter 5
Biotechnology and the Environment

Environmental problems are a combined result of our technology, population growth, and consumer economy. They are problems of resource misuse and overuse. We demand too much, too fast, from the world and produce wastes at every step.

On the grand scale, however, there is no such thing as waste in nature. Discarded molecules are shunted from rocks and soil to plants and animals to air and water and back again, largely through the efforts of microbes. Unseen and unsung, these original recyclers have been neglected until recently by all but academics. With the development of environmental biotechnology in the 1980s, researchers began to look to nature for lessons in how to clean up pollution, monitor environmental health, and produce energy and materials in less destructive ways.


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