This is an essay on Biotechnology. Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the controlled use of microorganisms like bacteria or biological substances such as enzymes to perform industrial or manufacturing processes (Alexandrou, 2010). It improves plants, animals or develops useful microorganism.
Biotechnology can be traced back to ancient times when microorganisms were used for processes like fermentation. However, the growth of Biotechnology is linked to the development of genetic engineering in the 1970's. In modern times, Biotechnology has relied on the use of cells and tissues particularly the recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology which has different uses. Hence, the classification into different fields namely; medical biotechnology, ecological biotechnology, bioprocess, pharmaceutical and industrial biotechnology, biotechnology navy and agricultural biotechnology (Biotechnology, 2004).
In medicine, modern biotechnology is applicable in drug production, gene therapy, genetic testing and pharmacogenomics-study of how the genetic inheritance affects one's body response to drugs. Pharmacogenomics is used in determining more accurate drug dosages and production of better and safer vaccines. Genetic testing involves the examination of the DNA molecule and is used for; confirmation of diagnosis, determining sex, forensic/identity testing and newborn screening. Genetic therapy is used in treating; curing genetic and acquired diseases like cancer by using normal genes to supplement defective ones. These applications improve our health and economy.
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In industry, Biotechnology is used in designing organisms to produce useful chemicals or destroy polluting chemicals e.g. the use of hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria to eliminate oil spills of coastal regions. In agriculture, biotechnology has been used in generating higher crop yields with fewer inputs, developing crops with higher nutrient content, reducing dependence on fertilizers and pesticides, reduced vulnerability of crops to environmental stress like drought and the production of novel substances in crops like fatty acids for detergents from an oilseed (Maarten and David 2003). This is achieved through gene transfers and improves food security in the world. However, agricultural technology leads to increased herbicide usage and herbicide resistance, residues in food crops and genetic contamination which affects farmers negatively. Conclusively, the positive impact of biotechnology outweighs its shortfalls.
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