It’s World Water Day, and the U.N. encourages everyone to take action in any way possible. And biotechnology has the potential to make a significant contribution toward the goals of this significant day.
According to the U.N.’s Water Development Report 2023, published for the first major UN Water Conference in 1977, the global community is falling short of achieving its sustainable development goals aimed at ensuring clean water.
“Water scarcity is becoming endemic” due to higher demand and pollution, and climate change will create new shortages, says the report, which stresses that collaboration is crucial to achieving all the targets regarding water.
The report also calls for research and tackling topics such as agriculture, environment, human settlements, industry, health, and climate change. “Only through partnerships and cooperation can the pieces come together. And everyone has a role to play,” the report states.
What is biotech’s role?
The use of biotechnology, such as bioremediation and bioaugmentation, involving microorganisms capable of breaking down severe contaminants—ranging from heavy metals to oil spills on water and land—is now being employed to clean up polluted water. Companies like Microvi and Kurita America utilize this biotech to treat wastewater.
Joyn Bio’s engineered microbes help corn, wheat, and rice crops fix nitrogen in the soil, replacing chemical fertilizers that cause nitrogen runoff. Joyn Bio has stated that their innovative approach utilizes synthetic biology to modify the naturally occurring microbes found in cereal crops. This modification enables these commonly cultivated grains to fix nitrogen from the air into the soil, similar to other plants, as Bio.News has previously reported.
Plastic pollution can be a thing of the past
Biotechnology also has a great role in preventing plastic pollution. There are many BIO member innovations that are tackling this type of issue. Danimer Scientific is using proprietary processing in order to produce a biodegradable PHA, while Virent produces “drop-in” plastics which are biodegradable or compostable.
Sustainable raw materials
When it comes to more sustainable every day products, biotech companies such as Genomatica and LanzaTech have made notable progress.
Genomatica announced it is working on a plant-based version of HMDA (hexamethylenediamine), which is now made out of fossil fuels and used as a material for creating nylon, coatings, and adhesives. “Genomatica is committed to delivering a portfolio of sustainable materials that can help any brand reduce the carbon footprint of its products while maintaining the performance customers count on,” said Christophe Schilling, Genomatica’s CEO.
LanzaTech has collaborated with lululemon athletica inc., a leading athletic apparel company, to produce the world’s first yarn and fabric from recycled carbon emissions.