How Is Biotechnology Used Today?

Biotechnology is a field of science that uses biological processes found in living entities to make technological advances and adapt those technologies to various fields. This includes applications in agricultural practices, medical industry etc. Its applications are not limited to fields with living entities but the principles can be applied to other fields where information obtained from the biological perspective of an organism can be applied. In particular, biotechnology is vital when it is about the development of chemical and miniature tools as most of the biotechnological tools are used to study at the cellular level. Biotechnology is used in the following fields today:

Applications Of Biotechnology

Medical Biotechnology

It is the use of cells and their materials for the betterment of human health. It finds applications in finding cures and preventing diseases. Tools are used for the purpose of research to discover efficient ways to maintain human health. Study of animal, plant and bacterial cells is carried out to understand the functioning, the science can hence be used to produce pharmaceutical drugs and chemicals to fight diseases. Study of DNA, in particular, is carried out to understand the manipulation of genetic information in cells thereby increasing the benefits it can cause to humans such as insulin production. Few examples of the applications are:

  • Vaccines – They are the chemicals that stimulate the system to fight better against pathogenic attack.
  • Antibiotics – Antibiotics are being developed to combat pathogens in humans by producing plants that are genetically engineered to produce antibodies. It is a cost-effective process as compared to cell extraction process from animals and plants to synthesize antibodies on a larger scale.

Agricultural Biotechnology

It focuses on cultivating genetically modified plants to increase crop yield. In a few cases, scientists detect a favorable characteristic, identify the gene causing it and then incorporates that gene into a different plant so that it obtains that desirable characteristic. Few examples of the applications are:

  • Animal and plant breeding – Selective breeding involves choosing animals with the most desirable characteristics, allowing them to breed so as to produce offsprings with similar traits. Some of the desirable traits were – animals resistant to diseases, large animals, domestic animals to make farming all the more profitable.
  • Pest-resistant crops – Anti-pest traits expressing plants are developed using biotechnological principles which makes them resistant to pests. For instance, the Bacillus thuringiensis gene is transferred to crops. The fungus synthesizes an effective protein against the pests.

Industrial Biotechnology

It is one of the most promising streams of biotechnology which fulfills one of the world’s biggest challenges, feeding the growing population and endeavoring new and better successful alternatives to our depleting natural resources. This filed dates back to the second world war when modern industrial technology took shape through large-scale fermentation procedures.

 

Few examples of how biotechnology has hovered over are listed below:

  • Production of alcohol – It is one of the most popular and fundamental applications of biotechnology where beer is produced from barley(starch source), water, brewer’s yeast, and a flavoring agent. Two of the most commonly used tools in this field are microbes and enzymes.
  • Production of first generation biofuel through fermentation of sugars derived from plant sources to ethanol by the application of the same process used for alcohol production.
  • Its principles are used to make bioplastics from biopolymers that are extensively used in food packaging, sunglasses, mobile phone covers, etc.
  • The fermentation vat used to synthesize fabrics is the oldest known dyeing process. Fossil fuels yield polyesters which are used to make clothes, blankets, fabrics, carpets and other household furnishings.
  • Ongoing projects permit biomass generated from algae to be reused to produce biopharmaceuticals, biogas, bioethanol, and compost that are utilized in the production of crops.   
  • Extraction of neutraceuticals, namely, herbal products and dietary supplements from biorefineries and usage of special chemicals for fruits to ripen readily to be able to meet the demand supply.

 

Apart from these applications, biotechnology is applied in other facets as well, such as:

  • In the energy production sector – Production of biofuels.
  • Nutrient supplements
  • Resistance towards abiotic stress
  • In strengthening fibers
  • In the development of the healthcare sector – pharmaceuticals.

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