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Frequently Asked Questions About Biotechnology

What is biotechnology?

Biotechnology employs molecular biology and genetics to create improved agricultural products, food, animal feed, industrial materials, and medicines. Biotechnology crops are improving harvests while conserving water, soil, and the quality of our environment. Now and even more so in the near future, biotechnology will provide consumers with foods improved in taste and nutritional quality. Industrial applications, using renewable resources such as corn, can be found in plastics and fibers; these bio-based materials reduce our environmental footprint. Millions of people worldwide have been healed or helped by drugs and vaccines developed using biotechnology.

How is biotechnology being used in agriculture and food production?

Biotechnology, combined with advances in the understanding of molecular and cellular biology, is aiding agriculture and food production in many ways. A key benefit is that biotechnology tools reduce the amount of time required to deliver conventional product traits and improved foods to market. Biotechnology tools reduce years of crop field testing and trait selection to months of laboratory testing and selection. This significant reduction in time benefits both growers and consumers.

A second key benefit is that biotechnology production traits are integrated into plants. This allows growers to reduce production costs and time, increase their efficiency; and control pests in an environmentally friendly way. For example, specific traits protect corn plants from damaging insects. This helps farmers increase per acre yields and reduces the need for chemical sprays.

A third key benefit is that biotechnology provides plants that supply better nourishment for livestock and expanded nutritional choices for consumers.

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Is biotechnology really a new technology?

Biotechnology covers such diverse activities as the use of yeast in brewing or bread making, and the fermentation process to make yogurt from milk. For centuries, humans have been selecting, sowing, and harvesting the best seeds that then produce the food we eat.

Today, new developments in biotechnology allow us to identify and transfer the specific gene that creates a desired trait in a plant and offer a more precise way to produce plants with certain beneficial characteristics, such as greater nutrition.

What type of investments has DuPont made in biotechnology?

DuPont is a science company; research has always fueled our work. We see biotechnology as a very important tool that can improve quality of life in numerous ways. Many of our top scientists have been using biotechnology for several years to bring new products to market. Their work is part of our multi-billion dollar investment in the selected areas of biotechnology where we can make a difference —agriculture, animal feed, food, industrial materials, biosensoring techniques, and healthcare.

How can the public be sure that DuPont will practice biotechnology safely?

Safety is our heritage and passion. We believe in rigorous internal testing and stringent governmental review. DuPont has a verifiable record of being one of the safest industrial companies in the world in terms of employee safety. DuPont has also made a public commitment to use biotechnology safely. We recognize that only through safe use can we realize its benefits. In addition, we have made a public commitment to engage and listen to interested parties, including our critics, concerning biotechnology. This is vital if we are to better understand their concerns and seek their advice on strategies and direction.

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