The use of biotechnology in agriculture has the potential to develop a new type of agriculture relying more on biological processes than chemical applications. Pest-resistant plants will require fewer chemical treatments. The use of biotechnology may further lead to, an increase in agricultural yields, particularly in poor or fragile soil systems; the development of drought resistant strains; a reduction in land use requirement and subsequent reduction in deforestation, and possibly increase genetic diversity through gene transfer and better knowledge of different genotypes. Economically, biotechnology can reduce the risks farmers presently face with the uncertainty of certain crops and possibly assist diversification through the introduction of new pharmaceutical or chemical produce. Potentially, biotechnology can assist in raising food production in developing countries.
Plant biotechnology can facilitate the farming of crops with multiple durable resistance to pests and diseases, particularly in the absence of pesticides. Likewise, transgenes or marker-assisted selection may assist in the development of high yielding crops, which are needed to feed the world and save land for the conservation of plant biodiversity in natural habitats. Hence, crops should be engineered to meet the demands and needs of consumers. The genetic base of crop production can be preserved and widen by an integration of biotechnology tools in conventional breeding.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
Biotechnology in agriculture is currently being promoted aggressively by corporate interests who also have a major influence on trade negotiations.
There is no single gene for such properties as high yield, increased nitrogen fixation, increased hardiness, etc. Such valuable properties are the consequence of combinations of many different genes interacting with each other and the environment. To believe that it is possible to produce fertile, healthy, stable and valuable plants by inserting many different "desirable" genes is wishful thinking that has no support in present scientific experience.