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Biotechnology: A Boon or a Bane

The techniques used to utilize living organisms for the benefit of humans forms the basis of biotechnology. One of the most important question that comes to one's mind while they come to know about biotechnology is that whether it is actually beneficial for us or is it just something which has short term benefits with long term ill effects?

The techniques of biotechnology are as old as 6000 years when the ancient people used fermentation to produce food products. The modern biotechnology is quite a new field with having it's roots around 1971 and therefore it is quite essential to know the pros and cons of it.

Biotechnology: A boon

The usefulness of microbes has proved to be a boon in pharmaceutical, agricultural and food processing industries.

Biotechnology has not only helped to modify the agricultural crops for increasing their nutritional aspects but has also increased their yields. Thus, biotechnology has proved to be a boon for the farmers. Genetically modified insecticidal plants have proved to be a beneficial way to decrease the use of insecticides. The decreasing use of insecticide would decrease their harmful effects on the crops.

The advancements in the field of biotechnology has provided a more precise detection of certain diseases by using highly sensitive biological recognition elements in biosensors. A biological recognition element can be an antibody, nucleic acid or a microorganism. In order to improve the sensitivity of detection for the required parameter, one can modify the biorecognition element by using genetic engineering.

Biotechnology also plays a vital role in the treatment of various diseases. The techniques of biotechnology is involved from growing the antibiotic producing microbes in fermentation broth to finally obtaining a pure antibiotic product in pharmaceutical industries. Furthermore, advanced treatment methods for various diseases can be enhanced using modern biotechnology.

Biotechnology also has a lot of applications in environmental monitoring. A biosensor is used to monitor certain pollutants like carbon dioxide, ethanol, etc in the environment more effective as they act as substrate for various enzymes. The pollutants acts as a substrate whereas the biorecognition element.

Did you know that biotechnology can also help one to get rid of wastes? We all know that organic wastes are eaten up by tiny microbes in a process called bioremediation but using the modern day biotechnology one can manipulate or enhance the microbes to carry remediation in a more efficient and quick way.

Biotechnology: A bane

The long term ill effects of using biotechnology in agricultural sector are unknown. There is no knowledge about the effect of eating a genetically modified crop for a long period of time on human body. Some believe that while genetically modifying plants some nutritional qualities of the crops are sacrificed. Many believe that eating a naturally occurring crop would prove to be a safer option than eating genetically modified crops. However, there is no confirmed evidence about it.

The modern biotechnology is a relatively new field and thus it's long term effects on humans as well as the environment is unknown. Many call it as an act of interference in the nature. Some predict that the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can interact with the natural occurring organisms and produce a new mutant species which itself or its metabolic products can be harmful or destructive to the environment. The mutant strains can also interact with natural components to to produce toxic products. Thus, there is a need to monitor biotechnology based products in order to know and predict what can be their long term as well as short term effect on human health, animal lives and environment.

The various ethical concerns regarding the experiments involved in biotechnology are increasing as some refer it to playing with the genetic system of an organism. The various trial and error experiments are done on animals which could cause injuries as well as long term illnesses in animals.

Conclusion

The field of biotechnology is relatively a new field and thus it cannot be predicted whether it is good or bad as the long term effects are unknown. However, it has proved to be a boon in case short term scenario. 

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