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How Does Biotechnology Help Clean Up The Environment?

Microbes break down many chemicals in the environment. Sewage treatment plants harness these microbial recyclers to clean up waste water before it returns to streams, lakes and groundwater. Some sewage plants also collect methane the microbes produce to fuel generators, digesters and air compressors.

Another use is bioremediation - using microbes to clean up oil or chemical spills, such as gasoline leaking from an underground tank. A third use is biopulping - using selected fungi in the paper-making process and using less energy and fewer chemicals at the same time. Biopulping is still experimental.

A cleaner alternative to using fossil fuels is using renewable resources such as whey and corn to produce plastics and ethanol (gasohol). And, by selecting natural organisms to combat crop insect pests and diseases, farmers can reduce pollution by using fewer chemicals.

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