We all talk of biotechnology thse days but the question that we need to ask is; what do we really understand by this term? Different definitions have come up with time and one of them is:”The use of microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeasts, or biological substances, such as enzymes, to perform specific industrial or manufacturing processes.” It is a field of biology that involves the use of living things in engineering, technology, medicine…nowadays it is most commonly known as genetic engineering or as cell and tissue culture technology. But in a simple term we can refer biotechnology as the use of living organisms or their products by man to modify the human health and the human environment.
Biotechnology has alsways been existed since the beginig of mankind. When the first human beings learned that they could grow their own plants or breed their own animal, it was the birth of biotechnology. However as time pass by and man was evolving, the concept of biotechnology itself has changed. Nowadays it encompasses a wider range and history of procedures for modifying living organisms according to human purposes, going back to domestication of animals, cultivation of plants and "improvements" to these through breeding programs that employ artificial selection and hybridization.
We have not only been able to look at the surrounding universe and the depths below with the advancement of tools and techniques but we also have been able to live there. The advancement tools and techniques are now allowing us to look at the universe of atoms. Biotechnology is utilizing the sciences of biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, computers, and information technology to develop tools and products that hold great promise and concern. Humans have always been"manipulating" organisms to their advantage, but now we are able to manipulate life and materials at the atomic level through nanotechnology.
Some applications of biotechnology are:
1. The health sector
2. Food and drinks
4. Manufacturing and Bio-processing
6. Aqua culture and marine biotechnology
8. Production of synthetic hormones
9. Bio-conversion of organic waste
10. Help in cleaning the environment through the use of genetically modified bacteria to clean up oil spill.
In modern terms, biotechnology has come to mean the use of cell and tissue culture, cell fusion, molecular biology, and in particular, recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology to generate unique organisms with new traits or organisms that have the potential to produce specific products.
Biotechnology is being used in many areas of medicine. It has been precious in the production of more effective drugs with minimum side effects. It has also helped in the improvement of tests and producing better diagnosis through the gene therapy and producing organs for transplant. Scientists believe that biotechnology is the key that will help them to find cures to diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, malaria among others. It is also used in the production of antibiotcis in order to fight infections and help the immune system to be more resistent in the future.
However the risk that super viruses are being created exists and this can lead to a global infection. Gene-enhanced bacteria can cure cancer but the same can mutate into the next plague, which would be more lethal. Another risk that exists is the possibility of allergens or the risk of incompatibility during an organ transplant.
Biotechnology is also widely used in the pharmacogenomics industry where it helps in the development of medications, in determining the accurate methods to provide the appropriate dosage of medications.
In the agricultural field, biotechnology has helped in the crossbreeding of crops so...