What is biotechnology and what is it for - find out here

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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.

What is biotechnology

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.

What is biotechnology for?

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).

Types of biotechnology

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:

Green biotechnology

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.

Blue or marine biotechnology

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.

Gray or environmental biotechnology

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.

Red biotechnology

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).

White biotechnology, linked to industrial processes

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:

  • Orange biotechnology: Its objective is the diffusion of biotechnology, providing information to encourage and attract future researchers with high capacities for biotechnological development.
  • Brown biotech: It includes the treatments that are applied on arid and desert soils.
  • Golden biotechnology: it is related to bioinformatics as the analysis of data obtained from biological processes.
  • Black biotechnology: linked to bioterrorism and biological warfare by investigating microorganisms that can be turned into biological weapons. Developing research in this field can prevent attacks of this type.
  • Purple Biotechnology: that encompasses the legal issues of this science such as security measures, the protection of patient data, bioethics or legislation.
  • Yellow biotechnology: It is a type of emerging biotechnology belonging to the culinary industry and related to reducing the saturation of fatty acids in oils used in cooking.

Advantages and disadvantages of biotechnology

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:

  • Superior crop yield. The resources used in them are not increased, which allows obtaining a greater quantity of food for less, reducing the probability of lost crops.
  • Pesticides are used less as a result of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which leads to a reduction in costs and the environmental risks caused by them.
  • Improves nutrition, GMOs can provide superior nutrition since vitamins and proteins can be added to them and reduce toxins and allergenic components.
  • Furthermore, by being able to use GMO crops in more adverse conditions, it can favor less favored countries that have less access to food.
  • Development of new biodegradable materials that generate less toxic waste.

However, as we have commented, not everything is excellence in this science, since it entails drawbacks. These are the disadvantages of biotechnology:

  • Risks for the environment such as loss of biodiversity or resistance to toxins for insects incorporated in GMOs.
  • Health risks. New toxins or allergic compounds can be created as a result of the transfer of these engineered toxins between organisms. In addition, there is a risk of leaks of viruses and bacteria that are being worked with in the laboratories for their modification or specific use.
  • In agriculture, it produces a decrease in the workforce in these processes of agricultural modernization. In addition, they carry high costs that farmers without great resources cannot afford.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is biotechnology and what is it for?, we recommend that you enter our category of Ecological Technology.

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