The first major revolution in the sector came about almost 10,000 years ago when agriculture itself was born. Despite a massive evolution in all this time, the most recent evolution took place just 60 years ago,this being what we know as the green revolution. However, of all is the revolutions that have occurred, perhaps the one we are living right now – the biotechnological revolution is the most promising.
The reason for this being that agricultural biotechnology has allowed us to achieve amazing results when traditional techniques could give no more. . At this moment in time, we know that biotechnology is one of the main tools used to feed an ever-growing population, doing so in a way that respects and ensures a more sustainable world.
What do we mean by ‘The green revolution?
Between 1960 and 1980, there was a substantial increase in agricultural production, firstly and more so in the United States, before then slowly spreading throughout the world. This was a result of the practices and innovative technology which began to form part of daily life, including developing and sowing more resistant varieties of crops, new growing methods and specialized products.
This meant huge advances in productivity. The effectiveness of these varieties, their format and the application techniques used meant that crops could be planted in places where it was previously impossible to do so. It is said that the green revolution began with the American Norman Borlaug, responsible for the selective crossing of varieties of wheat, maize and rice for many years in developing countries, until he eventually came up with varieties that were more productive and resilient to the effects of the climate.
Borlaug’s contribution to agriculture was such, that not only is he considered to be the main person responsible for the green revolution, but he is referred to, by many, as the father of modern agriculture’. . Of course, credit cannot be given to just one person. The green revolution meant an important change in paradigm, in that synthetic products, agricultural techniques and variety selection substituted traditional ways of doing things.
As a result, the typical, familiar treatments, the weaker varieties and the inefficient use of certain technologies were left to one side. This brought many good things (and some bad, such as overexploitation, the impact on ecosystems, the excessive use of fertilizers and reduction in local biodiversity etc.) but the result is by far more positive than negative, in the sense that the production processes and the sale of agricultural products changed completely.
What is Biotechnical revolution?
After the green revolution, came the biotechnological revolution, which would bring with it a huge change in the whole system of farming. . But what is biotechnology? It is the branch of technology applied to particular objectives and developments. Different types are differentiated through the use of colors. green biotechnology is traditionally associated with agriculture, while gray biotechnology tends to refer to the improving the environment and yellow biotechnology is connected to the food industry.
And why do we refer to this as a revolution? Because agricultural biotechnology is literally, causing a new evolution in all processes within the sector. Previously, for example, it would take years to come up with selected varieties. Now there are hundreds of techniques which allow us to do this in less than a year, even months, and at our discretion. Biotechnology develops solutions to fight the most damaging plagues and diseases, as well as helping to increase productivity of certain species.
There are also the less-known applications created for crop development; special solutions and technologies which allow for growth in controlled conditions, outside this field, which may help to reach new objectives, such as peace exploration.
But we don’t even have to go that far although it seems like something from science fiction, biotechnology has helped to understand the relationship between microorganisms, fungi and plants.. This knowledge shows us how to balance this relationship and use it to our benefit. In other words, the so called revolution of agricultural biotechnology is truly changing the way in which we have to produce, buy and sell in the agricultural world.
What can biotechnology do for the world of agriculture?
This is a question that is bound to come up as we move along – ‘what can biotechnology do for the farmer?’ And the answer is: a lot! To start with, it can help to maintain productivity while reducing the impact on the environment.. To be precise, it can help to reduce contamination by nitrates and phosphates, among others. This means striving for a more sustainable agriculture, less destructive and healthier, with all that this entails (including help available, long term sustainability and better-quality products).
Bulhnova is a clear example of this – a biofertilizer that uses specialist bacteria known as ‘growth promoters’ or PGPR’s. . These bacteria form a natural part of the soil and help the plant with nitrogen fixation and obtain nutrients such as phosphates. The Bulhnova PGPR’s, however, are especially selected to make the most of the natural elements already available. As field tests have shown, this bio fertilizer, a result of the most cutting-edge biotechnological work of the last 20 years, is capable of completely substituting conventional fertilizers. By doing this, contamination is reduced.
On the other hand, green biotechnology allows for fruit and vegetables to be produced using fewer protective substances, many of which are toxic for human consumption. This means that fewer treatments are needed to eliminate these substances reducing costs and producing higher quality products.. Examples of these include natural insecticides such as Belthirul which uses Bacillus thuringiensis spores, a natural substance which only acts on insects and which is completely harmless to animals and plants.
As if this weren’t enough, biotechnology has helped to create new varieties faster. And it is not just the case of the well-known transgenesis – with tools such as CRISPR Cas9 and an endless list of other tools available in science, nowadays crops can be practically made to order, with more productivity, quality and resistance being the main objectives.