‘Biotechnology’ plays an important role in our daily lives. Ranging from pharmaceutical industry to waste treatment plants, it finds its application everywhere. Let’s explore this field and find out about its possibilities in the future.
Biotechnology is an innovative and constantly evolving field of study.
In biotechnology, living cells are used to develop or manipulate products for certain purposes. Genetically modified foods are an example for the application of biotechnology. It is linked to genetic engineering. Biotechnology started emerging as a field in its own right in the 20th century. It was primarily used by the food industry. Over the years, the technology started finding its application in diverse sectors.
Modern biotechnology is primarily divided into five branches- human, environmental, industrial, animal and plant. Biotechnology helps us in fighting hunger and deadly diseases. It helps us in saving energy and reducing our ecological footprint. Biotechnology boosts the stock markets. In 2019, It was one of the most profitable sectors of the NASDAQ Composite index.
Evolution of Biotechnology
It was Hungarian agronomist Karl Ereky who coined the term ‘biotechnology’ in the year 1919. In 1928, Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic use of penicillin. The fact that DNA was the carrier of genes was discovered by Canadian scientist Oswald Theordore Avery in 1943. Moving ahead, in 1953, the double helix of DNA was described by biologists James Watson and Francis Crick.
In the year 1969, an enzyme was synthesized in vitro for the first time in history. The first genetically modified (transgenic) plant was developed in 1983. As the years rolled by, scientists introduced to the world Dolly the sheep, the first clone of a mammal in 1997. The following year, a draft of the human genome map was created locating over 30,000 genes.
The first synthetic cell was created in the year 2010 by a group of researchers from the J.Craig Venter Institute. In 2013, giving hope to blind people across the globe, the world’s first bionic eye was produced in the US. Biotechnology was elemental in fighting the deadly coronavirus as well.
Uses and Applications
As we mentioned earlier, biotechnology spearheaded our fight against the Covid-19 global pandemic. It enables us to decipher the virus’ genome and also helps us in understanding how our body’s defense mechanism works against infectious agents.
Hence, biotechnology will play a crucial role in the future in preventing and containing potential pathogens. Let’s have a look at the application of biotechnology in various fields.
‘Biotechnology’ played a significant role in the development of insulin and several other vaccines. Biotechnology, in alliance with genetic engineering has made several path breaking discoveries in the field of medicine.
Biotechnology has already brought about revolutionary changes in the industrial sector. We could soon have self-healing concrete, clothing and footwear made with synthetic spider web and several other innovative products.
Biotechnology has been a game changer in the food sector. It has helped in developing crops like WEMA, which is resistant to droughts and insects.
In the bioremediation process, microorganisms are used to remove various chemicals and physical pollutants from the environment. This helps in restoring contaminated ecosystems.
Types of Biotechnology
- According to Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Red biotechnology is pivotal in developing vaccines and antibiotics. It helps in regenerative therapies and production of artificial organs.
- Green biotechnology is used by over 13 million farmers worldwide. It helps in fighting pests and protecting crops from microorganisms and extreme weather conditions.
- White biotechnology is used for the development of biofuels and other technologies.
- Yellow biotechnology is used in food production. For example, it helps in reducing levels of saturated fats in cooking oil.
- In Blue biotechnology, marine resources are exploited to obtain aquaculture, cosmetics and healthcare products.
- Gray biotechnology focuses on the restoration of contaminated environments.
- Gold biotechnology is responsible for storing and analyzing biological information related to DNA and amino acid sequences.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Biotechnology helps in reducing carbon emissions. It optimizes the use of water as well.
Biotechnology helps in lowering infection rates and minimizing side effects of medications. It promotes healthy and sustainable agriculture.
Overuse of biotechnology may affect the balance of ecosystems. Other risks include allergies, poisoning, and the potential danger of a modified bacteria escaping from a laboratory.
Cloning can often lead to ethical debates and social controversies.
Hence biotechnology if used properly can ensure us a great future!
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