Biotechnology is a field that can be overwhelming at first. Currently, with all the technological advances that occur in society, this science seems to be in full swing. It is likely that if we hear about it, we all know in an abstract way what it is about, but when it comes to specifying it, the difficulties begin. How does biotechnology work? What exactly does it do? Therefore, at Ecologista Verde we are going to help you answer these questions in this article about what is biotechnology and what is it for.
The term "biotechnology" was probably used for the first time by the engineer Kárloy Ereki in 1919 in his book "Biotechnology in meat and dairy production of a large agricultural holding". But what exactly is biotechnology and what is it for?
Biotechnology is a multidisciplinary area for which it is difficult to find a concrete and universal definition. In a generic way we could say that biotechnology is the science that studies the use of various techniques to modify living organisms.
For example, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD, biotechnology can be defined as:
"Application of principles of science and engineering for treatments of organic and inorganic materials by biological systems to produce goods and services."
On the other hand, according to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity it also defines it as:
"Any technological application that uses biological systems and living organisms or their derivatives for the creation or modification of products or processes for specific uses."
But what do all these definitions mean? Well, by way of synthesis, we can say that biotechnology is the science that uses the biological machinery (living cells) of living beings to produce services that are useful for humans, which range from the pharmaceutical field to the food or industrial processes.
Biotechnology has its bases in multiple fields. It integrates various subjects that derive from technology and applied biological sciences, such as cell biology, molecular biology or bioinformatics. In addition, it touches other related fields such as chemistry or physics.
Biotechnology has a wide field of use. Through its use, scientists and researchers try to use the “biological technology”Of living beings (it is said that our body works as a“ machine ”, and in an equivalent way that of the rest of the organisms) for various functions.
In this way, biotechnology has application in issues related to medicine, pharmacy, agriculture (more productive crops), the food industry (healthier food) and even environmental issues (renewable energy sources, waste treatment systems and pollution elimination).
Depending on the area to which your services are directed, it can be classified into several groups that are identified by a color code. Thus, the main types of biotechnology according to color code are:
Applied in agricultural processes such as, for example, in obtaining transgenic plants, that is, genetically modified. These plants present "novelties" and "advantages" with respect to the others depending on the trait that the human being wishes to modify. They may be able to grow under adverse weather conditions, resist various pests or diseases, etc. With all this, a higher productivity is obtained in the crops.
Still in development, it is used in marine and aquatic environments. Its usefulness lies in fields such as aquaculture, food, health care or cosmetic products.
Its purpose is to maintain biodiversity, that is, to preserve species, as well as to eliminate pollutants and heavy metals from the natural environment. It is linked to the bioremediation process, which uses plants and microorganisms to reduce and eliminate these substances that are harmful to the environment.
Used in medical processes such as the production of antibiotics from organisms, the development of vaccines and drugs or the progress of genetic engineering, which through the manipulation of genes finds treatment for various diseases (gene therapy).
Its purpose is to create products that degrade easily, consume less energy and generate less waste during production, as in the textile industry. Therefore, this biotechnology uses fewer resources than traditional industry.
However, they are not the only types. There are other types of biotechnology that go even deeper into the field of application:
Although apparently with what has been seen in the previous sections, all are advantages with biotechnology, it also presents disadvantages that must be taken into account.
Between the advantages of biotechnology stand out:
However, as we have commented, not everything is excellence in this science, since it entails drawbacks. These are the disadvantages of biotechnology:
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