FAQs and Biotech Basics

Find answers below to frequently asked questions about biotechnology and how DuPont leverages this technology to help solve challenges. For GMO-specific questions, visit GMOAnswers.com. GMO Answers was created to help answer any and all questions about genetically modified foods dearly, concisely and directly. Read the top questions consumers have asked, or ask your own!

Frequently Asked Questions

» What is biotechnology?
» Why does DuPont use biotechnology?
» What does a biotechnology scientist do?
» What are the different types of biotechnology?
» Is biotechnology safe? What about GMOs?
» What is a GMO?
» How does biotechnology impact the environment?
» Where can I learn more about biotechnology in general?


What is biotechnology?

Biotechnology at DuPont uses lessons from nature to solve previously unsolvable challenges in human health, energy, the environment, food and nutrition. Our DuPont scientists study the amazing ways plants, animals and microbes exist, adapt and face challenges in nature (such as how plants fight off diseases). Then, we use these lessons to create customized local solutions around the globe.

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Why does DuPont use biotechnology?

At DuPont, we use biotechnology as one of the tools to solve challenges faster with fewer resources and less environmental impact. In some cases, we believe biotechnology can solve challenges that other technologies cannot or offers a better choice when other solutions don’t work as well.

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What does a biotechnology scientist do?

DuPont’s scientists – our “Solvers” – who work in biotechnology study the amazing ways plants, animals and microbes exist, adapt and face challenges in nature (such as how plants fight off diseases). We use biotechnology to apply these lessons from nature to create customized local solutions around the world.

For example, enzymes produced by organisms that thrive in cold water can help reduce energy usage by allowing us to effectively wash clothes in cold water. Heart-healthy oils can be made from genetically modified soybean seeds, and biofuels can burn cleaner and more efficiently thanks to other explorations of biotechnology.

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What are the different types of biotechnology?

Biotechnology can be grouped into three categories: medical (red) biotechnology, industrial (white) biotechnology and agricultural (green) biotechnology. At DuPont, our scientists are focused on finding solutions to challenges through industrial and agricultural biotechnologies specifically.

Medical biotechnology uses biology and technology together to help identify and treat illnesses and diseases at the genetic level. Medical biotechnology also supports the efficient production of medicines, making the manufacturing process more sustainable and the resulting treatments more affordable and accessible to the patients who need them.

There are numerous examples of medical biotechnology ranging from the insulin and life-saving vaccines introduced in the 1980s to the personalized medicine and gene therapy of today and tomorrow.

Industrial biotechnology leverages knowledge of naturally occurring microorganisms and fermentation to create enzymes that in many cases replace chemical or petroleum-based processes for developing fuels and materials. Bio-based solutions from DuPont include cellulosic ethanolSorona® carpet and cold-water Tide

Agricultural biotechnology helps farmers grow more food on less land using fewer resources such as water and some pesticides. Seeds developed using agricultural biotechnology are called GMOs.

DuPont sells GMO seeds with biotech traits that help farmers control insects and weeds or have an improved nutrition profile. We also are the largest provider of non-GMO seed for farmers.

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Is biotechnology safe? What about GMOs?

Yes, we believe biotechnology is safe. For decades, biotechnology has increased productivity while addressing sustainably issues around the world, yet questions about the safety of biotechnology and especially GMOs continue to be raised. Some opponents of biotechnology say that these crops are untested and unregulated. In reality, the opposite is true.

Biotech crops are some of the most tested and regulated products to ever come to market. Before a new GMO even enters the government review process, it must meet our strict internal requirements. Each potential new product is thoroughly tested and reviewed by scientists at DuPont, and a team of internal experts monitors research from day one. This infographic shows the testing and regulatory process.

During research and product development, scientists evaluate whether a new biotech crop would be safe to grow, safe for the environment and safe for beneficial insects such as monarch butterflies. Testing is also done to ensure that the crop is safe for humans to eat, including testing for potential allergens. In total, more than 75 studies are conducted and carefully documented throughout the research process.

Substantial dossiers, summarizing all of this data, are submitted for review by regulatory authorities around the world. More than 90 different government bodies in the 70 countries where GMOs have been grown or imported are involved in granting approvals. In the United States alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review new GMOs to help ensure they are safe for the environment and human and animal health.

On average, it takes 13 years and a $130 million investment in research and development before a new GMO comes to market. The regulatory research and review process alone can take five to seven years.

After a new biotech crop completes the regulatory review and approval process and is sold to farmers for planting, product stewardship comes into play. DuPont Pioneer requires that all farmers who purchase our seed products comply with all applicable regulations, company policies and crop management strategies for each product.

DuPont also supports the Excellence Through Stewardship (ETS) initiative that promotes the universal adoption of stewardship programs and quality management systems for the full life cycle of plant products.

For more questions about the safety and stewardship of biotech crops, visit www.gmoanswers.com

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What is a GMO?

GMO is the acronym for “genetically modified organism”. GMOs are created through biotechnology. GMOs are one small aspect of biotechnology that is related to agriculture. However, biotechnology can be used to create many technologies, and GMOs are just one example. To create a GMO, researchers use genetic engineering to turn off an existing gene or add a gene from another source to create a new, desirable characteristic in a seed.

For more information about GMOs or to ask questions, visit www.gmoanswers.com. More than 1,000 questions about GMOS are featured on the site. This is a great resource to find detailed answers to almost any question on GMOs. DuPont, and five other seed companies, sponsor the site. The questions are answered by experts from biotechnology companies, including DuPont, as well as universities, industry organizations, farming and other related fields. Another great resource is U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), an organization that provides facts and farmer stories about GMOs that can be shared with the public. Visit www.fooddialogues.com to learn more.

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How does biotechnology impact the environment?

We believe biotechnology helps the environment by solving challenges faster using fewer resources and reducing environmental impact.

Through biotechnology, we have discovered new ways to produce technology and products that the world needs, such as renewable energy, more nutritious foods, crops that use fewer resources and renewably sourced products that reduce our dependence on petroleum and finite fossil fuels.

Agricultural biotechnology specifically helps farmers grow more food on less land using fewer resources such as water and some pesticides. DuPont sells GMO seeds with biotech traits that help farmers control insects and weeds.

In the future, biotechnology will play a very important role in ensuring a sustainable, food-and-fuel-secure world. Through a variety of important global benefits, biotechnology has the power to help us do more than what we can imagine.

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Where can I learn more about biotechnology in general?

If you want to learn more about biotechnology beyond the DuPont resources shared, Iowa State University Office of Biotechnology maintains one of the most comprehensive lists of resources online.

This list includes websites with educational resources, information about biotech food and biotechnology research. It cites parties interested in sharing biotechnology information including important universities; industry organizations including International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) and Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO); and other groups including PBS Learning Media on Biotechnology.

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