Biotechnology is the technological application that uses biological (biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof) to create or modify products or processes for the benefit of man and his environment. It uses sciences like physics, chemistry, mathematics, and engineering to develop its advances.
Biotechnology includes practices and discoveries in the fields of medicine, industry, agriculture and in the care of the environment. For example, in the development of new drugs or treatments for certain diseases, the development of crops and the production of lime, the treatment of waste and recycling.
Types of biotechnology
There are different types of biotechnology, each one is named with a color that identifies it. They are distinguished from each other by the area in which they are developed and the methods and means they use.
- Red biotechnology. It is the application of biotechnology in medicine.
- White biotechnology. It is the application of biotechnology in industrial processes.
- Blue biotechnology. It is the application of biotechnology in processes that are related to the sea.
- Green biotechnology. It is the application of biotechnology in agriculture.
- Gray biotechnology. It is the application of biotechnology in the care of the environment.
Stages of biotechnology
The origin of biotechnology dates back to 4000 BC. C. (approx.) With the beginning of the first civilizations that used the fermentation mechanism to make bread, cheese, and wine. This gave rise to traditional biotechnology that uses living organisms for food processing or other processes.
The term biotechnology is attributed to the Hungarian engineer, Károly Ereki (1919). In the last century, modern biotechnology developed from detailed knowledge of the structure of DNA. This enabled its manipulation and the advancement of practices such as genomics, genetic engineering (such as the development of recombinant insulin or transgenic foods ) and pharmaceutical therapies.
Advantages of biotechnology
- Development of practices that improve the productive capacity of the land.
- Development of practices that improve the nutritional capacity of food.
- Discovery of new drugs for the treatment of various diseases and pathologies.
- Development of biorefineries as a means to create new types of renewable products.
- Development of bioremediation for the treatment of contaminated land.
- Development of practices for recycling waste.
The application of biotechnology in agriculture is one of the most controversial areas. Organizations, groups of activists and consumers call for limiting the presence of genetically modified organisms (those that have been modified by genetic engineering) and demand labeling laws to inform consumers about the presence of these organisms in food.
Although studies by the United Nations, the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, the European Union, the American Medical Association and other organizations have reported that these practices are safe, it is feared for the long-term consequences that they may have on the health of people and the environment.
Genetic engineering also raises ethical and judicial issues. Techniques that artificially modify ecosystems, genetic manipulation or cloning generate fear and rejection in part of the population.
Examples of biotechnology
- Bacteria and yeast cultures
- Skim, fortified or long-life milk
- Contributions to the fight against cancer
- Biofuel production
- Transgenic plants
- Biodegradable plastics
- Growth hormones