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Biotechnology is a modern technology based on biology. It develops technology and products by harnessing bio-molecular and cellular processes that help planet earth to live a better life.

With the help of the technologies and breakthrough products used in biotechnology, combating rare diseases, reducing environmental damages, introducing safer and cleaner industrial manufacturing processes have been made possible.

Biotechnology has majorly contributed to the following four sectors:

  • Medicines:  instead of chemicals, microorganisms have been used in an expansion of biopharmaceuticals. When large molecules of proteins react with a human body, they help wiping of several rare diseases. Gene therapy is used to diagnose diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s diseases.  Another method that is used to gain a person’s genetic information is pharmacogenomics.  This enables doctors to analyze drugs suited for each individual. Genetic testing is used to indicate genetic diseases in parents. This method is also used to determine parents of a child and unmask criminals in certain cases.

  • Green Biotechnology: This is a means of application of biotechnology in agriculture and food production. The major forces in this field like Monsanto, BASF are concentrating on molecular plant biotechnology, which is expected to be the future of this sector.

  • Food Processing: Food items with novel or medicinal properties are called functional food. They have been a boon of biotechnology to mankind. Oats, fatty fish, soybean are few examples.

  • Industrial Applications: The Biotech process is used to measure pollution levels. Bioenergy helps in supplying clean energy into the environment. Wastes collected from the organic substances is an example. Bioremediation has helped the transformation of hazardous substances to non-toxic elements.

Biotechnology in the simplest sense can be understood as the application of biological processes to develop practical solutions. It is the technology pertaining to biology, the exploration and development of biological processes, modulation of living organisms, and their respective derivatives for definitive uses. Biotechnology utilizes biological systems at the level of cellular and biomolecular processes to develop products and technologies, henceforth helping in improving and making human lives better.

Applications of Biotechnology

Biotech has emerged as a breakthrough cross-discipline in the sciences. Its applications have indeed come to break the ever prevailing barriers in a number of fields. Its application is explicitly experienced in the fields of healthcare, agriculture, and energy creation.

Biotech’s benefits to healthcare

Biotech’s benefits to healthcare range from diagnostics, vaccination to advanced therapies.  The development of solutions such as Biomarkers that help in tracing the molecular footprints of degenerated cells, biotech driven blood tests that enable the measurement of even the amount of low-density lipoprotein in blood, and many more, have come to revolutionize the diagnosis, making it more accurate, faster and cost-efficient. On the other hand, Biotech vaccines are proving to show impeccable results, taking the vaccination space by a storm.  Vaccines per se refer to the inducement of weakened microbes, stimulating the antibiotic present in the body to better immunity. As Biotech has bioengineering as one of its major components, it has come to facilitate the modulating and designing of weakened microbes to trigger apt antibiotic in the body. Some of the groundbreaking vaccines developed in the recent past based on Biotech are namely Zica Virus vaccine, the next generation typhoid vaccine, and soon to be out cancer vaccine.

Apart from vaccines, and diagnostics, Biotech also has its penetration in therapeutics. Its arrival has resulted in the enabling of improved therapeutic regimens. It is Biotech’s advances in therapeutics that have facilitated the development of advanced therapies such as cancer therapies, gene therapies, and replacement therapies. For instance, Biotech powered cancer therapies are helping cancer treatments through MAbs that help in inactivating tumor-suppressing genes and thereby introducing normal copies of the genes to regress the tumor cells.

Biotech’s application to agriculture

Coming to Biotech’s application to agriculture, although Biotech engineered crops have been in the middle of scathing criticism, it still proves to be the viable option amidst the existing problems concerning droughts, low yields, and poor crop quality. The coming of genetically modified crops has helped in improving the productivity, variety, availability, and more importantly in reducing the prices of the products. In addition, it has its application in food processing, provisioning the development of better fermentation, storage and secure mobility of food across considerable distances.

Significance of Biotechnology in Energy Application

Biotech has its imminent significance in the generation of energy. It efficiently uses processes such as fermentation and utilizes commonly available catalysts such as yeasts and enzymes to transpire them into energy manufacturing plants of high potential. Biotech is contributing to energy generation and efficient usage via structuring the stages of chemical manufacturing, furthering the use of biofuels to cut down emission of greenhouse gases, facilitating a lack of reliance on petrochemicals, minimizing the uncalled for usage of water, and consolidating the innate potential of biomass waste to harness energy.

Such an extensive set of application is indeed a testament to Biotech’s effectiveness and importance in today’s world. However, Biotech is not a product of instant spontaneity. Biotech is a product of continuous development, and one with a magnanimous history. The history of biotech can be traced to the ancient era. It is seen that processes such as fermentation of beer using Biotech can be witnessed to have been practiced by early Egypt, China, Mesopotamia, and India.  It is said that fermentation was also used in the early ages to make bread. In the early modern era, namely in the 18th-century scientist had already come to experiment with selective breeding. However, the dawn of 20th century proved to be the greatest accelerator in the development of Biotechnology. The earlier part of the century saw scientists developing better grounds on microbiology and experimenting with different ways of manufacturing concerned products.  Chaim Weizmann was the first person to apply an aspect of microbiology to an industrial process, namely in the production of acetone, which led to the development of explosives for United Kingdoms during the crucial moments of world war.

Emergence of Biotechnology

As human societies moved to the latter half of the 20th century, 1970 marked the pivotal point in the emergence of Biotechnology as an institutionalized discipline. As Paul Berg’s experiments in gene splicing saw early success, it led to Boyer and Cohen radically advance the technology in 1972, and thus arose the era of Biotechnology. Biotechnology today has come to have its applications and expanse in a wide variety of fields. The radical growth of information technology and its integration with Biotech has indeed come to expand its foray to further heights.   

Although Biotech has indeed come to offer such an illustrated range of solutions, however, it is not free of challenges. The potential application of Biotech to agriculture is embroiled with the concern that the transgenic crops have the tendency to transfer its traits into some of the natural crops or yield, thus posing the dangers of serious ramification. For instance, if a herbicide-resistant crop transfers its trait to weed, it would result in a large scale problem in having the better yield. A major concern still remains regarding its long-term implication to the Biodiversity or the ecosystem. As Biotechnology pursues its endeavor to genetically modify and create new organisms, it opens the risk of the balance of Biodiversity. How the existing eco-system would behave with the presence of artificially induced organisms. Another drawback with Biotech revolves around the question of diversity. As biotech products rapidly sweep into the market and hegemonize for their cost-effectiveness and better appearance, they pose the danger of homogenizing the products that would result in the extinction of a rich variety of natural products that the human society has access to. Lastly, the very aspect of modification that constitutes the heart of Biotech raises the question of manipulation which would undermine the naturally constituted characteristics of the biological processes.    

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