Ans: Biotechnology is the branch of science that uses living organisms, systems or any other things make or create technology related products to improve quality of human life. It is abbreviated as Biotech and can coincide with molecular biology, bionics, bioengineering, genetic engineering and nanotechnology depending on techniques and tools involved.
Scientists can make advances and adaptations to technology in various fields by harnessing cellular and biomolecular processes. Traditional processes like using living organisms in their natural form, breeding new living organisms or modifying their genetic makeup all are within the reach of biotech. Treatment of disease, environmental impact reduction and more efficient use of natural resources are being possible by successful applications of such processes. Major biotech companies implement biotechnology as a practice to bring medical devices and products to the mainstream market.
Biotech is potentially vulnerable to misuse, like any other technology is. Concern about this has led to efforts by some groups to enact legislation restricting or banning certain processes or programs, such as human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research. There is also concern that if biotechnological processes are used by groups with nefarious intent, the end result could be biological warfare.
Types of biotechnology
The science of biotechnology can be broken down into sub-disciplines based on common uses and applications.
Red biotechnology: Medical processes like – drug production from organisms, regenerate damaged tissues or growing entire organs using stem cells.
White (or sometimes seen as Gray) biotechnology: Industrial processes – production of new chemicals or the development of new fuels for vehicles.
Green biotechnology: Agricultural processes – producing pest-resistant crops, disease-resistant animals and environmentally-friendly development.
Gold biotechnology: This is also called Bioinformatics – it is a cross between biological processes and computing that plays a key role in biological data.
Blue biotechnology: Processes in marine and aquatic environments – controlling the proliferation of noxious water-borne organisms.
Yellow biotechnology: Processes that aid food production, the most popular application being the fermentation of alcohol or cheese.
Violet biotechnology: The compliance, law and ethical issues that arise within the field.
Dark biotechnology: The ability to use biotechnology for weapons or warfare.
Examples of biotechnology
The uses of modern biotech are various, like:
i. Pharmaceutical industry finds cure for diseases understand human cell biology and DNA, develop vaccines and manufacture antibiotics with the help of biotech.
ii. Chemical manufacturing engineers streamline chemical manufacturing, reduce operational costs and reduce chemical emissions by using biological processes, such as fermentation and the use of enzymes or microbes.
iii. Biofuels can be created by altering natural resources, such as corn, to produce combustible fuel.
iv. Nutrient supplementation can involve biotechnology as some foods are infused with necessary added nutrients to aid in diet planning or medical treatment.
v. Plants and crops can be bred to handle external stresses, such as minimal space or extreme weather conditions, through biotechnology.