Today, DuPont is combining our experience and knowledge of chemistry with our understanding and expertise in biology. The result is our work in biotechnology, applications of a scientific process to deliver more enhanced possibilities for people.
The world's population is expected to exceed nine billion by the year 2050, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. With more people, we need to provide more resources. Biotechnology alone cannot solve this problem, but it does promise the potential of solutions to global food security and environmental protection.
On the Farm
Farmers are stewards of the earth, providers of food. To yield healthy, plentiful harvests and lighten our environmental footprint, farmers seek economically and environmentally appropriate options. As another tool for farmers to improve productivity and profitability, biotechnology applies the newest, most advanced knowledge to help plants do things they couldn't do before.
For example, corn yields have increased as biotechnology has been widely adopted. USDA figures indicate that average U.S. corn yields, which increased about 1.65 bushels per acre during each of the 25 years prior to 1996, have increased about 2.71 bushels per acre each year since the introduction of insect resistant corn traits that year. In other words, biotechnology in tandem with improved germplasm has contributed to an average yield that is 27.1 bushels per acre greater than yields just 10 years ago.
Pest and Disease Protection.
Crops that protect themselves from pests help ease our environmental load, while maximizing farmers' harvests. Corn on the market today offers simple, season-long protection against the European corn borer, which does an estimated $1 billion in damage to U.S. cornfields alone. Pioneer® brand corn hybrids with Herculex® XTRA offer the industry’s broadest in-plant insect protection, controlling corn borers, western bean cutworms, black cutworms, corn rootworms and more.
DuPont is also developing higher-yielding crops. Some hybrids currently sold by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, produce yields 5 to 20 percent higher than those of conventional corn.
New Weed Control Options.
DuPont has developed the Optimum® GAT® herbicide resistance trait, which will give farmers new weed control options and help boost yields in soybeans. The trait will also be available in corn and a number of other crops in the near future.
Less Erosion, Better Water.
Biotechnology is helping DuPont deliver products on the market today that give new options with minimum or no tillage, reduced soil compaction and erosion and improved water quality.
Better feed for livestock decreases phosphorus amounts in manure. This, in turn, helps to improve quality of ground water, rivers and other bodies of water. Improved feed also helps produce quality meats more efficiently.
These advances in biotechnology have allowed farmers to benefit from greater productivity and output with less cost, effort and economic risk, and a reduced burden to the environment.
On the Table
DuPont biotechnology researchers are developing more convenient, healthier choices in grocery stores and tastier foods for the family dinner table.
We are developing healthier soybean oils with superior cooking stability and less saturated fat than olive oil. DuPont researchers are developing soybean varieties that are higher in oleic and stearic acid, and lower in linolenic acid, which will eliminate or reduce trans fats while continuing to provide the taste consumers expect and the superior quality needed for industrial food processing.
Research is revealing more about the health benefits of soy, from alleviating menopausal symptoms to reducing cardiovascular disease risk. DuPont is building on our innovations to grow soybeans with higher isoflavone levels.
DuPont is investing in improving grains to reduce meat and eggs' cholesterol content, and provide meat products with improved freshness, nutritional profile and flavor.
How We Live
More than just how we eat, biotechnology can enhance how we live and work. At DuPont, we're applying our knowledge of biology with other areas of science to fit — and adapt to — consumers' lifestyles. From optimized medical diagnosis and sensors, to improved construction and clothes, we're finding sustainable solutions to make households safer, communities healthier and life simpler.
Through biotechnology, DuPont researchers developed a safer, less expensive process to produce 3GT, an indispensable component in production of Sorona, a unique lightweight, stain and static-resistant material. Clothing and rug manufacturers favor better fitting, easily dyed and more comfortable fibers made with Sorona.
For the World
Agriculture around the world is challenging, especially in developing countries where farmers face drought, plant diseases, insects and low crop yields. Biotechnology offers a promise for a world population expected to exceed nine billion by 2050.
Biotechnology products have the potential to help children around the world who suffer from nutritional deficiencies.
Biotechnology is already playing a role in increasing world food production. Globally, there were 329 million corn acres in 1981. Today, 361 million acres are harvested worldwide, a mere 9.8 percent increase. However, production increased from 17 to 27 billion bushels over that time, a monumental 56 percent increase. In other words, advances in technology and agricultural practices have created 150 million “virtual acres” in the past quarter century.
New Methods for Farming.
We're developing drought and heat-resistant corn. There's also significant potential for crops to thrive in poor quality soil where land is scarce and to maintain yields with less nitrogen.
Agriculture with the Environment in Mind.
Where environmental concerns rank high, there's potential for crops that reduce erosion and maintain water quality. Crops being developed could require less tillage or produce more environmentally-friendly animal feed.
Approaches to Malnutrition.
Biotechnology's potential includes solutions to problems of malnutrition. DuPont is the technology provider to the Africa Biofortified Sorghum Project, which seeks to use biotechnology to enhance the nutritional value of this important food source in Africa.