Biotechnology is an area of science focused on the use of living systems and organisms in the creation and improvement of techniques and products.Biotechnology encompasses basic biological sciences (such as molecular biology, embryology, genetics, etc.), applied sciences (such as immunology and biochemistry), in addition to technological areas such as information technology and robotics.
Biotechnological methods cover various procedures for modifying living organisms, from the simplest such as domestication of animals and the cultivation of plants, to the improvement processes such as artificial selection and hybridization. In addition, the most modern methods involve the use of genetic engineering and the culture of cells and tissues.
The integration between the different areas of biology with the techniques mentioned above gives rise to biotechnology, whose applications occur in several sectors.
Differences between classic biotechnology and modern biotechnology
Classical biotechnology refers to the various means of using live microorganisms to produce new products or modify existing products. It covers classic methods such as crossing species to obtain new ones that have the desired characteristics, and fermentation, used in the production of wines, cheeses and bread.
Modern biotechnology relies heavily on techniques that use genetic engineering . In this sense, it is possible to affirm that the greatest advances in biotechnology occurred through tools and methods of genetic engineering, such as the intentional manipulation of genes, cells and tissues in a controlled manner to form genetically improved organisms, the recombination of DNA, tissue culture , mutagens, etc.
Examples of application of biotechnology
Considering that biotechnology comprises a wide range of sciences, its results can be found in numerous sectors of the economy. Applications in this area always seek to improve the quality of life on the planet, either through the creation of new techniques and products or by improving existing ones.
Genetically modified organisms
A classic example of the application of biotechnology is the creation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), also called transgenics . These organisms had their genetic code altered (usually by combining with genes from other organisms), in order to eliminate defects and develop new properties.
The main examples of genetically modified organisms are those used:
- in medicine : insulin, stem cells, growth hormone, hormones for the treatment of infertility, new treatments for cancer, gene therapy (treatment of diseases by replacing defective genes), vaccines, etc.
- in agriculture : genetically improved food, more resistant and productive crops, animals and plants modified to produce substances usable in medicines, etc.
- in animals : transgenic rats used in studies and fish growing four times above normal (tilapia and dorado).
- in the environment : bacteria that fight pollution caused by oil and metals.
As an example, check out other goods and services that had a biotechnological origin:
|Sectors||Goods and services|
|Agriculture||Compost compost, pesticides, silage, seedlings of plants or trees, plants with new properties, etc.|
|Cheers||Antibiotics, hormones, drugs, reagents, tests, etc.|
|Chemical industry||Butanol, acetone, glycerol, organic acids, enzymes, etc.|
|Energy||Ethanol, biogas, etc.|
|Environment||Oil recovery, waste treatment, water purification, etc.|
Advantages of biotechnology
The advantages brought by biotechnology are innumerable and extend across all fields of application, improving the quality of life in the world. Among its most apparent results are:
- Higher yields and greater resistance;
- Less use of pesticides;
- GM foods last longer, reducing food waste;
- Reduction in the amount of energy needed to produce food;
- Use of products less harmful to the environment;
- Decrease in world hunger;
- More nutritious food;
- Reduction in the occurrence of contagious diseases;
- Creation of more accurate tools for disease detection, etc.
Disadvantages of biotechnology
Advances caused by biotechnology also have negative consequences. Among the main ones, we can highlight:
- Damage to the environment;
- High dependence on technologies from developed countries;
- Increased concentration of income;
- Uncertainty about its long-term effects on the environment and organisms;
- Decrease in biodiversity;
- Increase in the occurrence of diseases caused by transgenic products.
In order to classify the different areas of biotechnology, professionals and scholars in the area started to adopt a color system that divides science into branches, according to the field of application:
- Green biotechnology : it is applied in agriculture with the aim of creating more sustainable agricultural conditions.
- Red biotechnology : it is applied in medicine with the aim of improving medicines and treatments. The most advanced methods even cover the cure of diseases through genetic manipulation.
- White biotechnology : also called industrial biotechnology, it is used in the manufacture of products using methods that are less harmful to the environment.
- Yellow biotechnology : it is applied in the areas of nutrition and food production, but it also refers to the branch of biotechnology applied to insects.
- Blue biotechnology : it is applied in the exploration of marine biological resources.
- Purple biotechnology : related to laws, patents, publications and other documentary issues related to biotechnology.
- Golden biotechnology : refers to the use of bioinformatics and computational techniques in biotechnology.
- Orange biotechnology : also called educational biotechnology, it consists of all measures aimed at the dissemination and dissemination of biotechnology.
- Black biotechnology : is related to the application of biotechnology for military purposes, such as the production of biological weapons.
Career in Biotechnology
In view of the multidisciplinary nature of biotechnology, access to the profession can occur through several different backgrounds, such as biology, medicine, agronomy, biochemistry, engineering, pharmacy, etc.
Specialization requirements for entry into the biotechnology area vary according to the regulations specific to each profession.