What is biotechnology and what is it for?

Thanks to this article you can know everything related to biotechnology, its definition, its applications and use, advantages, disadvantages and risks, and its importance today.

Definition of Biotechnology

Biotechnology includes all the methods, techniques and technological applications that use living organisms or their parts, to create products of great variety. The origin of biotechnology dates back to 8000 years BC, when society discovered fermentation, by then producing cheeses and wines.

For World War II, progress was made in the matter of large-scale fermentation, which was worked through the production of beer. Subsequently, fermentation had its peak and massive impact, when this process was used to produce the first antibiotic “penicillin”.

A great triumph in the world of medicine. The discovery of DNA was key to biotechnology, and lays the foundations and origin of Genetic Engineering.

Biotechnology differs from Genetic Engineering, in that biotechnology is the fusion of bioscience with technology, while Genetic Engineering deals with the direct manipulation of the DNA of living organisms.

Applications and use of Biotechnology

Biotechnology by employing areas such as biology, chemistry and technology, produces various useful products in a wide range of sectors, such as agriculture, pharmacy and medicine and plastics industries.

Its applications can be classified as follows:

  • Agricultural and livestock or green biotechnology: development of crops and crops, resistance to pests and diseases.
  • Environmental or gray biotechnology: conservation of species and reduction of pollution.
  • Biosanitary or red biotechnology: production of vaccines, drugs, genetic and cell therapies.
  • Industrial or white biotechnology: cosmetics, chemicals, plastics, food, fuels.
  • Blue biotechnology: everything related to the marine environment and its species.

Traditional biotechnology dates back thousands of years, and is based on the discovery and use of fermentation, as a process to create yogurt, wines, cheeses and beer, and after that, drugs, detergents.

For its part, modern biotechnology was born in the 1980s and has been Genetic Engineering itself, through which genes are directly modified and transferred from one organism to others.

Advantages and disadvantages of Biotechnology

In this new science there are many advantages, but also disadvantages and risks that it is worth mentioning. Among the main advantages of biotechnology can be found:

  • Superior performance
  • Pesticide reduction
  • Improves nutrition, taste and quality of food
  • Improves health and reduces hunger
  • More efficiency in the development of new materials
  • Increases flexibility in growing forms
  • Faster growth of crops
  • Reduction of environmental pollution

Among the main risks of biotechnology can be found:

  • Toxin transfers
  • Biological agents that cause diseases and their spread
  • Bio-diversity can be lost

Among the main disadvantages of biotechnology can be found:

  • Unemployment and rural exodus
  • Modernization entails greater investment and access to basic resources (water, land …), leaving poor farmers out of modernization.
  • Can be used as a weapon of destruction
  • Generates uncertainty
  • Generates instabilities in natural ecosystems

Importance of Biotechnology today

The Biotechnology plays an important role in our society today, improving our style and quality of life. The positive impact it has been having in the creation of drugs that are vital to fight diseases such as cancer, as well as in the improvement of crop development throughout the world, is indisputable.

If you are interested in being part of the world of biotechnology and contributing to the various advances in it, you should know that its study includes subjects such as: biology (basic, cellular and molecular), chemistry (general, organic, chemical balance and kinetics), laboratory (tissue and cell culture), biotechnology engineering, programming, calculation, physical balance and thermodynamics.

We hope this article has served to clear all your doubts about biotechnology and its application in current medicine, as well as other sectors that benefit from this science.