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Biotechnology refers to a field of applied biology that is concerned with the use of bioprocesses and living organisms in medicine, technology, and other fields that require bio-products (Murphy, 2011). In other words, biotechnology refers to the application of technical and scientific improvements in life science to create commercial products. Biotechnology procedures and processes are varied and include genetic engineering on husbandry of animals (Gillespie & Flanders, 2010). This discussion will consider the evaluation of the current or future application of biotechnology in agriculture.
Genetic engineering can be useful in the modification of the genetic compositions of microorganisms, animals, and plants (Reddy & Hodges, 2000). The current application of this biotechnology includes modifying crops. Genetically engineered products go through research and development in order to ensure that they are fit for commercial release. Some of the most significant commercial applications of biotechnology in agriculture include enhanced crop protection, improvements in food processing, improved nutritional value, just to mention a few (Reddy & Hodges, 2000). Enhanced crop protection includes herbicide tolerance, virus tolerance, and insect tolerance, which ensure that crops are resistant to unfavorable environmental conditions.
Herbicide tolerance enables crops to withstand lethal doses of herbicide during the chemical eradication of weeds. Virus tolerance allows crops to resist viral infections. Biotechnology ensures that some crops, such as squash and papaya, contain a gene obtained from a virus (Braman, 2004). Such plants can produce certain viral proteins and resist viral infections by the viruses that provided the viral proteins. Insect tolerance allows crops to resist moth larva and beetles because of the presence of the toxin Bacillus thuringiensis (Braman, 2004).
Biotechnology allows for improvements in food processing. Genetically engineered bacteria produced chymosin as the enzyme that replaced calf rennet in the process of making cheese. Currently, the cheese making firms use chymosin in about 60 percent of the manufactured cheese (Gillespie & Flanders, 2010). This enzyme is beneficial during the production of cheese, which includes increased purity, high cheese yield efficiency, a significant cost reduction, and a reliable supply of cheese. Biotechnology has also improved the nutritional value of crop products. Genetic engineering has made it possible for human beings in the contemporary society to improve the flavor, texture, and nutritional value of foods (Gillespie & Flanders, 2010). Transgenic crops include soybeans with greater protein content, beans with more essential amino acids, potatoes with improved amino acid content and more nutritionally available starch, and rice with the ability to bring forth beta-carotene, a precursor of Retinol, to help prevent blindness in individuals who have nutritionally poor diets.
Therefore, biotechnology is extremely significant in the contemporary society, especially through enhancing an increased crop production, improved nutritional value, and allowing for improvements in food processing. Increased food production is possible when crops are herbicide tolerant, insect tolerance, and virus tolerant (Murphy, 2011).