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Biotechnology

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In its simplest form, we can say that biotechnology is a technology that is based on biology ; a technique that takes advantage of cellular and biomolecular processes to develop a series of technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet. In fact, we have used the biotechnology processes of microorganisms for more than 6,000 years to make useful food products , such as bread and cheese, and to preserve dairy products. Modern biotechnology provides us with innovative products and technologiesto combat rare and debilitating diseases , reduce our environmental footprint , feed the hungry, use less and cleaner energy , and have safer, cleaner and more efficient industrial manufacturing processes .

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What is biotechnology?

It is a multidisciplinary area that uses biology , chemistry and other processes for the creation or modification of products or processes that are carried out for some specific uses .

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  • What does it consist of
  • Characteristics of biotechnology
  • What do you study
  • History
  • Branches of biotechnology
  • Techniques
  • Modern biotechnology
  • Molecular biotechnology
  • Environmental biotechnology
  • Applications
  • Profits
  • Risks
  • Importance
  • Examples of biotechnology products

What does it consist of

Biotechnology consists of basic research which is applied to different approaches derived from technology and the application of biological sciences , such as cell biology, molecular biology , bioinformatics and applied marine microbiology . It also consists of the research and development of bioactive substances and foods that are suitable for the adequate well-being of different organisms, for cellular and molecular diagnostics , and for the proper management ofdiseases related to aquaculture, environmental toxicology and genomics, environmental management and biosafety associated with the cultivation and processing of marine and freshwater organisms, biofuels , and management and quality control in laboratories.

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Characteristics of biotechnology

Among the main characteristics that can be observed in the area of ​​biotechnology we have:

  • It uses living organisms or their parts in order to obtain or modify a product.
  • It is seen as a multidisciplinary approach that involves different types of sciences.
  • Produces the development and improvement of processes for industry or for the generation of goods.
  • It is used in the areas of medicine , agriculture , science and engineering .
  • It allows the modification of some products.

What do you study

Biotechnology is a science that studies the use of different types of techniques in order to be able to change the living organisms.  It studies the use of biological systems or their derivatives to be able to create or modify specific products that are also needed for specific uses.

History

The history of biotechnology is divided into four different periods . The first of these occurred in the era of Louis Pasteur when biotechnology referred to the empirical practices that were used to select plants and animals for reproduction , just as fermentation was used to enrich the content of food. This phase lasted until the 19th century. The second phase in the history of biotechnology occurs with the identification by Pasteur of microorganisms that caused fermentationand then Buchner who discovered the ability of yeast enzymes to convert sugar into alcohol . This is how fermentation began within the food industry .

The third stage of history was characterized by the development of the petrochemical industry that put aside the fermentation processes , the discovery of penicillin that laid the foundations for the production of antibiotics and the application of hybrid varieties in corn- producing areas. of the United States . The fourth phase is the current phase that begins with the discovery of the double axial structure of DNA as well as the processes of genetic engineering experiments .

Branches of biotechnology

Biotechnology has four different branches that are:

  • Red Biotechnology : it is applied to the use of biotechnology in medical processes such as in the design of organisms to generate antibiotics and in the development of genetic engineering to cure diseases through genetic manipulation.
  • White Biotechnology : called industrial biotechnology , it is applied to industrial processes such as the design of microorganisms to produce a chemical product . It can also be applied to the uses of biotechnology in the textile industry to create new materials, such as biodegradable plastics and biofuel production . Its primary objective is the creation of degradable products , which consume less energy and produce less amount of waste during their production.
  • Green Biotechnology : it is applied to agricultural processes such as the design of transgenic plants that are capable of growing in unfavorable environmental conditions or plants resistant to pests and diseases . The objective is that this type of biotechnology can provide solutions that are friendly to the environment, such as the production of pesticides .
  • Blue Biotechnology:  called marine biotechnology , it refers to the applications of biotechnology in marine and aquatic environments. Its applications are still in an early stage of development and are related to aquaculture , health care , cosmetics and food products .

Techniques

The techniques that exist to be able to carry out biotechnology are the following:

  • Genetic engineering : seeks to modify the hereditary material of an organism either by introducing or eliminating in its genetic code one or more genes that belong to an organism of a different species. It can be done in bacteria or in eukaryotic plant or animal cells .
  • Enzymatic engineering : researches and develops the improvement of the conditions to increase the fermentation yield , which can be achieved by means of the immobilization of the enzymes or of the cells or by recycling the processes.

Modern biotechnology

Also called third generation biotechnology is the application of living organisms in products that includes the deliberate manipulation of DNA molecules , which implies the development of laboratory techniques . It is also based on the use of recombinant DNA technologies, in antibodies monoclonal and new methods of culture of cells and tissues .

Molecular biotechnology

This is the type of biotechnology whose main objective is to study the different processes that occur in living beings from a molecular point of view . Look for a way to explain the different phenomena of life based on molecular properties . One of the main projects related to biotechnology is the Human Genome Project .

Environmental biotechnology

This type of biotechnology is what is used to improve the different technologies that exist on the natural and terrestrial environment with the aim of improving the soils and to take advantage of the biological process for commercial use. It is also based on the use of microorganisms in environmental processes. Through it more rich foods they may be vitamins , minerals and protein crops that are more resistant to attack by viruses and insects , longer conservation invegetables and fruits and crops that are more tolerant of drought and stress .

Applications

  • In food : it was the first sector to embrace biotechnology. It uses a series of biotechnological methods of testing and controls to improve food, mainly products sweeteners, flavorings and processing of special juices and nutrients.
  • In animals : many biotechnology processes can influence animal production . Used new technology of reproduction , new vaccines , production is given hormones and drugs and improved the diagnosis of certain diseases. Artificial insemination was also created and scientists are developing techniques to transfer embryos.
  • In industry:  there are many possibilities for the industrial use of microorganisms in industrial production and processes , in the creation of recombinant vaccines and medicines such as insulin and growth hormone.
  • In man : polymorphism is used, for example, for human identification when paternity cases must be clarified , for the knowledge of compatibility in organ donors and to link suspects with evidence at the crime scene .

Profits

Some of the benefits that biotechnology brings are the following:

  • It has the ability to produce superior performance .
  • By means of Genetically Modified Organisms , the yield of the crops increases, decreases the crops lost due to disease or pests and due to environmental factors .
  • There is a reduction in the use of pesticides, also reducing environmental and health damages.
  • It produces a great improvement in nutrition since additional vitamins and proteins can be introduced to food and at the same time reduce natural allergens and toxins.
  • Improvement in the development of new materials for the industry .
  • Help the environment .

Risks

It should be noted the possibility of cross pollination , through which pollen from genetically modified crops reaches crops producing resistance to plant herbicides , which could lead to the development of more aggressive weeds or greater resistance to diseases or abiotic stresses. , upsetting the balance of the ecosystem .

The use of genetically modified crops with genes that produce insecticidal toxins , such as the Bacillus thuringiensis gene, could lead to resistance to the gene in insect populations exposed to crops.

There may be loss of biodiversity as a consequence of the displacement of traditional crops by a small number of genetically modified crops.

There may be risks of transferring toxins from one organism to another, creating new toxins, or transferring allergenic compounds from one species to another, which could lead to allergic reactions.

There is a risk that modified bacteria and viruses will escape from high security laboratories and infect the human or animal population

Importance

The importance of biotechnology has different branches, in the area of medicine it allows to detect diseases and prevent them before they manifest themselves, it allows the identification of diseases with greater prevalence and it is possible to develop drugs to combat each pathology. Its greatest impact can be observed in the molecular diagnostics in drug development in cell therapy and the engineering of tissues . It is also of utmost importance in the production of biofuels that you try to replace fossil energy at more accessible prices.

Examples of biotechnology products

Some product examples are as follows:

  • Antibiotics
  • Insulin
  • Bacteria culture
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Skim, fortified, or long-life milk
  • Contributions to the fight against cancer
  • Biodegradable plastics
  • Biofuel production
  • Transgenic plants
  • Agricultural processes with different sowings of grains
  • Cultivation of marine plants and species

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