Biotechnology has a role to play in alleviating hunger and disease and mitigating climate change, but it's not the only solution, says an editorial in Nature Biotechnology.
Claiming that biotechnology can "heal, fuel, feed the world" is unrealistic, the editorial says.
Genetically modified crops have yet to address the main problems facing farmers in developing countries; biotechnology is only one of the approaches needed to improve biofuels; and gene therapy has not yet delivered promised cures for diseases.
Biotechnology must be used in the context of all other technical and nontechnological solutions, and proponents must be careful about overhyping the discipline's current and potential applications.
Further still, pushing the idea of biotechnology as the 'solution' is unlikely to convince sceptics, and could even be counterproductive.
Biotechnology communications must be less one-dimensional and outline the problems accurately to allow people to come to their own conclusions about how best to solve the world's problems.