To put it simply, the fusion of biology and technology can be termed as biotechnology. Biological organisms, both aerobic and anaerobic, are modified by scientific application of modern technologies to create products that make our lives better.
It came into the limelight in 1919 when Hungarian scientist Karoly Ereky coined the term, and since then it has widened its scope to include genomics, immunology and several other advanced sciences under its wings.
How does it benefit us? Let’s take a look!
- Improved Diagnostics
Ordinary pharmaceutical products are not always able to deliver a proper cure as they are either too expensive or the process of treatment is painstakingly long and arduous.
Improvements in biotechnology have helped mankind in creating medicines that treat severe diseases accurately and at the same time are cost effective as well. It has even helped us in coming up with regenerating techniques where stem cells and tissue re-engineering methods are combined to create functioning human organs that can be used to replace old and malfunctioning ones.
- Preservation of soil & water
Agricultural land and water bodies around the world are facing a crisis because of ghastly abuse and exploitation of them by mankind. Biotechnology has come up with developments like bio-remediation that not only helps us to protect these non-renewable resources but also contributes to fuel their potential.
- Sustainable food production
The genetically modified crop has revolutionized the way in which agriculture is done and has spurted the growth of agriculture production around the world. Nearly 17 million farmers across 29 countries made successful harvesting covering a land mass of almost 400 million hectares. The report that was gathered in 2011 also tells us that bio technically engineered crops can minimize the use of pesticides which are detrimental to the fertile lands.
- Enriched food production
Biotechnology is assisting scientists in producing food enriched with added nutrients like vitamin A, proteins and minerals. Not only patients but anyone can benefit from these food items and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Following are some examples of genetically modified (GM) food:
- Soybeans that are herbicide tolerant and produce various beneficial oils.
- Corns that helps in the extraction of a particular kind of protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (BT).
- GM Pineapples that has altered flowering seasons to bring about uniformity in growth.
- Production of useful products
Although chemical processes can be applied to convert raw materials into valuable chemicals and other products, they also induce heavy expenses as high temperatures and other special conditions are necessary prerequisites for these processes. On the other hand, biological processes are more viable as they use biological organisms like microbes to fulfil the purpose.
Ending on a positive note, scientists are predicting a bright future for this revolutionary field of science. From its inception in the early 20th century to the present day, biotechnology has ushered in an era of greater possibilities with inventions like DNA Computers and virtual cells in its repertoire of accomplishments. Admittedly, moving ahead we can expect more such exciting innovations.