Modern biotechnology was 'invented' in 1972/73. New technologies typically require a fifteen to twenty year incubation period of research and development before their commercial, industrial and other economic impacts begin to become significant. Biotechnology holds the key to many problems from environmental management to major savings for the consumer through improved performance of products and processes as well as from entirely new products and services. Simultaneously, environmental applications of biotechnology will produce enormous savings in the economic costs of pollution. Modern biotechnology, its current applications and its potential to reduce pressure on the environment, will be discussed in respect to biosafety, regulatory approaches, new processes, R and D, 'after processes' waste treatment and bioremediation. (orig.).