Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Applications of Biotechnology in today's world.

A Paper On The Achievements Of Biotechnology In Today's World. Focus On The Agricultural  and the Health Sector.
Presented By Uchechi Moses Onwordi: Department: Genetics and Biotechnology.
On The Inaugural Lecture and Seminar Presentation Of The Biotechnology Students' Society Of Nigeria, BSSN.
4th February 2015.
Venue: Akwa Ibom State University's Auditorium, Ikot Akapden, Mkpat Enin Local Government Area.


      Firstly, the term "Biotechnology" has to be defined. It's the process by which raw materials could be biologically upgraded using technology into useful products for mankind. This apt definition was given by who today is regarded as the father of modern biotechnology, Hungarian Engineer, Karoly Ereky in 1919. OR
      "Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivates thereof to make or modify products or processes for specific use." Definition given by The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

          Biotechnology is a fast emerging scientific field that aims to help to provide the world with products that have a positive impact. It's divided into many sub  categories some which include Bio-informatics, (Red) Medical Biotechnology, Industrial Biotechnology, Environmental Biotechnology, Agricultural Biotechnology, Marine Biotechnology etc.  For the purpose of this seminar, I'll emphasize on Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology.

          Agriculture as defined by Wikipedia, is the cultivation of crops, animals, fungi and other live forms for food, biofuels, medicine and other products for the benefit of mankind. This field over the years has provided the world with what to eat, which if you ask me is now stretched due to overpopulation (this is not bad if it can be utilized efficiently), a decrease in arable land, climate change, changing eating diets (the Chinese are eating/drinking more pork, beef, milk than ever before). The traditional methods of cultivation has grounded to a halt. It entails on the world to find other methods of cultivation, which is vital;  because according to the United Nations, at least a billion people go to bed famished a year and the world's population is expected to expand by 1.285% to 9 billion by the mid-century from its current 7 billion.

          Therefore, agricultural research has intensified over the years on how to cultivate, increase yield per acre, fight against pests and adverse weather conditions. This is where Biotechnology comes into the fore by using and upgrading biological molecules to increase production and nutritional value without affecting food prices. This can be done through the use of  Genetically Modified Organisms/Foods (GMO and GM Foods), which is gotten from research done over the years by altering the DNA of crops by increasing the yield, nutritional value making it pest resistant, immune to drought conditions and factors. This has been proved successful in Brazil, China, United States, Argentina.
          However, this has not been without opposition which accuses the seeds  companies of hiding the health dangers of GMOs crops, the patents held by the company(ies) and threats of monopoly(ies) and control of industrial agriculture. Though, this has been proven false by the scientific community by constant research which showed and proved that Genetically Modified Foods have no adverse health condition and is even more needed as the world population rises.

HEALING THE WORLD
          Biotechnology is using nature tools and exploring our genetic component to treat, heal and provide quick health solutions to some of the world's toughest and rarest diseases in addition to precise and accurate information about our genetic makeup. The biotechnology sector is actively involved in making sure those drug and treatments been developed  and discovered have less effects, effective treatments etc. A study by Harvard University  conducted in 2007 predicted that by the year 2020, the Biotech industry (as called in business circles) is poised to surpass its closest rival, Pharma Industry. The health care side of Biotechnology as we know it to be today developed in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, with the first manufacturing of insulin; used in treating diabetes was produced; produced through DNA cloning utilizing the Escherichia coli bacterium. The application of biotechnology to life sciences through The Human Genome Project, which has helped us to understand more about biology and in the production of novel treatments for diseases.

          Biotechnology and her sisters' fields Genetics, Biochemistry, Nanotechnology, Biophysics, Computational(Bioinformatics) biology have been of invaluable use to scientists, researchers, medical professionals through genetic studies, analysis to quickly decode and find solutions to health problems. An example is the use of the technique CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) in the field of gene editing.
The industry which grew out of a need that was in search of new molecules that are cheaper and possessed less effects and also more productive. Firms like Biogen Idec, Gilead Sciences, Regeneron, Celgene, MedImmune, Amgen etc sprung up mostly in Biotech hub: Boston, San Francisco, Basel, Research Triangle Park, Shanghai, Singapore and London. Other branches include industrial and environmental biotechnology.
          In conclusion, biotechnology is a field that's very promising, lucrative and highly skilled and an industry waiting to be explored. Government at all levels can do their best by investing in infrastructure, that's, education, power, roads; "pump" money into intensive research and development. When these and many more are done I am confident of the results  of such investments as it'd provide jobs (well paid and highly skilled), increased foreign investments and revenue through exportation of products.
Written by:

Uchechi Moses Onwordi, Ikot Akapden, Akwa Ibom State.
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