Biotechnology is an application oriented science using the principles of biological processes.
Applications of biotechnology are many and of immense importance to mankind.
It is widely used in the filed of medicine, forensic science, environment, waste management, and agriculture.
It is one of the prime cause of industrial revolution and also rise in world economies.
The number of jobs have raised and also the business opportunities.
It is consistently explored for any new possible benefits to man.
But care has to be taken in its implementation as even some undesired results are possible.
What is biotechnology?
Biotechnology is the process of exploiting the principles of biology for human benefit in artificial ways. This includes production of biological substance in vitro and better performing animals and plants.
So in simple biological processes are controlled or modified for human advantage.
Biotechnology has many applications in different fields as mentioned below.
Scope of biotechnology:
Biotechnology is used to enhance the desired character in a biological system. Be it resistance to disease in crops, production of medicines, better yield etc. biotechnology is used.
If an organism is found to have a desired character like ability to tolerate drought conditions. That character is transferred into agricultural crop plants to grow in less irrigation conditions. By this the crop yield and growth is enhanced in the new plant than its ancestors. The same plant which was not tolerant to drought conditions, is tolerant to drought after application of biotechnology principles.
This is possible because the gene responsible to tolerate the drought condition in another organism was transferred into the genome of our desired crop. Hence our desired crop attains resistance to drought and grows well.
Examples of biotechnology
In medicine biotechnology plays a vital role besides biochemistry.
1. Production of life essential Hormones:
Current health care is dependent on biotechnology for production of some life saving medicines. Without biotechnology, health care would have been so insufficient and ineffective.
For example the insulin a hormone used in diabetic patient is manufactured for regular supple to meet the market demands by biotechnology. The gene for synthesis of Insulin is inserted into genome of E.Coli and this is subjected to fermentation for larger yield of Insulin.
Initially insulin was obtained from animals like pigs etc. But this had certain incompatible reaction in some patients. Hence biotechnology came into picture to meed the heavy demand for insulin without any incompatible issues in the body of the patient. Even vitamins, some enzymes, drugs like antibiotics, anti-coagulants are also manufactured by this biotechnology principle.
Similarly by tissue culture techniques more bio-molecules are obtained.
2. Production of Vitamins:
Most of the vitamins can be available from plants and other sources but vitamins like Vit-B12 is available in the market being produced by biotechnology principle. This is similar to above insulin technique, where E-coli is used for the purpose by fermentation process.
3. Production of Immunological (vaccines):
Vaccines are the drug substance which are given to prevent infectious diseases. Vaccines like polio, BCG, DPT, are given to many new born children everyday.
There are many vaccines which are produced by the use of biotechnology principle. Vaccines produced by other methods are not completely safe and also cannot produced in large scale to meet the demand.
So the vaccines of genetic engineering are produced. These are completely safe, inexpensive and also can be produced in large quantities to meet the market demand. Ex: Hepatitis-B vaccine.
Applications of biotechnology in agriculture:
Biotechnology is widely used in agriculture for various reasons like
4. Crop improvement: Biotechnology is widely used to produce high yielding varieties of crops. Due to huge population growth in the world, the yield of food materials had to be enhanced. This was done effectively by use of hybridization and biotechnology.
Crop protection– Biotechnology is also used to produce disease resistant crops. For example BT-cotton (biotechnology cotton) is developed to produce cotton variety plants with high resistance to diseases, pests and also adverse climate. This is practiced not only for crop plants but also for medicinal plants.
5. Livestock improvement: Live stock improvement is also one of the application of biotechnology. There is genetic modification of the animals for higher milk and meat production. Further, this is also applied in poultry. This also aims at enhance disease resistance by strengthening immunity of the animals and birds. Even their tendency to consume heavy fodder is minimized.
Applications of biotechnology in sericulture
6. For sericulture: Sericulture is the production of silk by rearing of silk worms. Silk is widely used in fabric manufacture. Here biotechnology is used to produce high quality, better yield of silk. This is attained by bringing modifications in silk worm strains and also the Malabar plant on which the worms feed.
Though there are many benefits and advantages of biotechnology to mankind, not all the applications of biotechnology are human friendly. Some of the products are not safe for human consumption. There are even fears of natural character or genes getting extinct due to intense alterations.