Biotechnology has become very popular in recent times with numerous startups setting up shop in various parts of the world. However, what most don’t realize is that biotechnology has made significant contributions to society over the course of history and still holds immense promise.
This article will aim to shed light on the contributions that biotechnology has made to the fields of agriculture, consumer goods, and even medicine. We will also touch on the future of biotech and what scientists have planned for the betterment of humanity.
Simply put, biotechnology uses living microorganisms to create a variety of products that we all use in our daily lives. The processes used in biotechnology have a reduced impact on the environment as the driving force behind the processes are living organisms, leading to a natural, organic, and ecologically balanced process.
Agriculture and Food
Biotechnology has had a direct impact on our planet’s ability to produce enough food to cater to a constant and consistently growing population. Biotech processes have ensured higher crop yields and the introduction of pest-resistant crops. In fact, historically one of biotech’s biggest applications has been in the field of agriculture and food production.
Even though most haven’t noticed, biotechnology has been around for centuries and has produced a number of products, some of which have been used for thousands of years. Beer is one example where the fermentation process is biotechnological and has been the same for the past 5000 years. Bio-TechnicalResources are used in cheese production and while the process may be more refined and industrialized today, the overall process has remained the same since the first cheese wheel was brought to the market.
Biotech has been used in the production of various fuels including ethanol and biogas. Considering the use of living microorganisms, biotech fuel production has a significantly reduced environmental impact in comparison to other fuel production facilities like oil refineries. Biotechnology also led to the discovery of detergents, allowing us all to keep our clothes and dishes sparkly clean and hygienic all the time.
Even though biotechnology itself has been environmentally friendly, it also gave rise to one of the most environmentally damaging inventions the world has ever seen; plastic bags.
By far, one of the most important applications of biotechnology has been in the field of medicine and healthcare. Using these processes, companies, and labs have been able to create drugs to treat a variety of debilitating ailments. Possibly the most groundbreaking contribution was in the form of Rituxan, a drug that is used in the treatment of cancer and is primarily used to reduce the size of tumors. There are also drugs like Humira which is used to treat arthritis and Enbrel which is used to treat various autoimmune disorders.
While the contributions of biotechnology to date stand and are certainly worthy of recognition, there is still much promise in the future. In the field of medicine, work is being carried out to use bacteriophages to treat several threatening diseases, such as malaria.
Additionally, there is one lab that is currently working on a method to provide clean drinking water. Using different bacteria and biotechnological processes, this team has been able to convert sewage water into clean drinking water and is currently working on using the same process on an industrial scale. If successful, clean drinking water could become a possibility around the world.