The importance of biotechnology for the development of the Amazon

June 01, 2023
By Milton Steagall

Brazil and the world have been looking for ways to advance the production process while at the same time reducing environmental impact to create an environment suitable for a more sustainable economy. This is a major challenge in which success requires the use of modern, science-based tools that can optimize, for example, the production of biodegradable plastics, the reduction of toxic metals in the environment, and the production of biofuels and inputs for different segments.

Biotechnology, a technique that uses biological systems, living organisms, and their derivatives to make or modify products or processes for specific use, is one such powerful tool in meeting this global challenge.

In the Brazilian Amazon, biotechnology has already started to generate results, such as the production of renewable inputs produced from vegetable oils, like palm and palm kernel oil, to replace petrochemical products with renewable raw materials, aimed at the agricultural, cosmetic, food, cleaning, and pharmaceutical segments.

Products such as soaps, shampoos, shaving foams, moisturizing creams, and sunscreens will depend less and less on petroleum-derived chemical components and will become more sustainable through the use of plant-based raw materials in their formulations. This is what the world's main markets are looking forward to, and this is what needs to be done for us to generate wealth with the forest standing.

I believe in investing in innovation to preserve the environment, generate jobs and income in remote areas and offer consumers around the world products produced with respect for the environment. The preservation of biodiversity is the order of the day all over the world and Brazil, which has the greatest biodiversity on the planet, is a key player in guaranteeing the balance of ecosystems.

Among the different Brazilian biomes, the Amazon is the richest region and can be considered the one with the greatest natural potential in the contemporary world in terms of material for scientific research and inputs for bioindustry. This potential needs to be studied, protected, recovered and exploited in a responsible way, with the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and forest management.

The cultivation of oil palm in the region, in areas degraded until December 2007, according to the Oil Palm Agroecological Zoning, one of the strictest legislations in the world, is an alternative to decarbonize the forest, generate innovations, wealth, and jobs.

With a high yield of ton of oil per hectare, the oil palm is ten times superior to soy, and its culture has an important social character: it cannot be mechanized and keeps the man in the field, which represents a relevant generation of jobs and sources of income in the Amazon region. In addition, this plant contributes to the balance of the forest, captures carbon, and recomposes the soil cover.

The use of biotechnology in this sector takes it to a new level, for it will be possible not "only" to produce biofuels and generate renewable energy for isolated areas of the Amazon that are not integrated to the National Interconnected System (SIN) of electric energy, but also to produce renewable inputs of high added value, which will be the basis for sustainable products offered by different segments.

Promoting innovation in the sector and with the aim of decarbonizing the Amazon, the Grupo BBF inaugurated BBF BioTech, specializing in the production of renewable inputs produced sustainably from vegetable oils such as palm oil and palm kernel oil - grown in the Amazon - to serve various market sectors and replace petrochemical products.

These are data that prove that biotechnology is, without a doubt, a great ally for this Brazilian turn towards the sustainable production of inputs that the world needs, protecting one of the planet's greatest assets - the Amazon forest.

*Milton Steagall is CEO of Grupo BBF.


icon of Milton Steagall CEO - Grupo BBF
Milton Steagall
CEO of Grupo BBF