Ans. Biotechnology is defined as the use of living organisms in processes for the manufacture of useful products or for services to mankind. Fermentation and other such processes, which are based on the natural capabilities of organisms, are commonly considered as old biotechnology.
Scope and Importance of Biotechnology
In recent years, biotechnology is growing as a separate science. It has attracted the attention of many intellectuals from diverse fields like agriculture, medicine, microbiology and organic chemistry. The scope for biotechnology is so wide that it is difficult to recognize the limits.
The following are some areas of the application of biotechnology.
Biotechnology in the Field of Medicine
i) In the field of medicine, biotechnologists synthesized insulin and interferon (antiviral proteins) from bacteria and released for sale.
ii) A large number of vaccines and antibodies,; human growth hormone and other medicines/have also been produced.
Various enzymes are being synthesized for medicinal as well as industrial use.
iii) Gene therapy (treatment through genes) has become important in recent years,
iv) Biotechnology is also much beneficial in forensic medicine,
v) The study of DNA helps in the identification of criminals.
Biotechnology in the field of food and Agriculture
i) Fermented foods (e.g. pickles, yogurt), malted foods.(e.g. powdered milk: a mixture of barley, wheat flour and whole, milk), various vitamins and dairy products are produced by using microorganisms.
ii) Wine and beer are produced in beverage industry.
iii) Biotechnology has also revolutionized research activities in the area of agriculture. Transgenic (organisms with modified genetic set-up) . plants are being developed; in which desirable characteristics are present e.g. moire yields and resistance against diseases, insects and herbicides.
(iv) Transgenic goats, chicken, cows give more food and milk etc.
(v) Many animals like mice, goats, cows etc. have been made transgenic to get medicines through their milk, blood, urine.
Biotechnology and Environment
i) Biotechnology is also being used for dealing with environmental issues, pollution control.
ii) Development of renewable sources for energy.
iii) Restoration of degraded lands and biodiversity conservation.
iv) Bacterial enzymes are used to treat sewage water to purify.
v) Microbes are being developed to be used as biopesticides, biofertiliz biosensors etc.
vi) Such transgenic microorganisms are also used for the recovery of meto cleaning of spilled oils and for many other purposes.
Fears are also being expressed about the advances in biotechnology in terms i release of harmful organisms developed through recombinant DMA technology.