The benefits of biotechnology have over time been figured out to be an essential factor in the conservation, protection, and sustainability of the environment. Biotechnology is a broad and ever-growing field that deals with the combination of biological and Technological concepts for the benefit of man.
This concept began way back 1970s when genetic engineering was developed, thereby allowing scientists to change the genetic material of human cells by working on the basic DNA structures.
The DNA structures have genetic information of living organisms that gives every organism unique features and characteristics.
Biotechnology is broken down into four distinct disciplines which include: medical processes, industrial processes, marine processes, and agricultural processes. These processes are represented by specific colors such as red, white, blue, and green respectively.
Scientists have been able to discover how to isolate and move special genes from one plant or animal to another for the benefit of man. This has triggered rapid advancement in the field of biotechnology.
By this human population has been affected positively as the primary aim of biotechnology which is advancement has to a large extent been achieved.
For example, biotechnology has helped in producing several better medical vaccines to fight against the disease-causing organism, enriched rice Vitamin A, high-yield crops that are easily harvested and can be grown in a variety of climates, etc.
Now we are going to take a look at the benefits of biotechnology in detail.
Advantages and Benefits of Biotechnology
There are several advantages of biotechnology, and they range from reducing environmental pollution to saving lives, increasing food production, etc. Let’s see some major ones below.
- Improvement in the Medical Sector.
- Reduction in Worldwide Hunger – Improves Food Security
- Conservation of Resources
- The Nutritional Quality of Crops is Improved
- Reduces the rate of Infectious Diseases
- Reduction and Elimination of waste products
- Genetic Screening
- Reduces the World’s Environmental Footprints
- Improvement in the High-quality food
- Reduction in the use of Pesticides on Farms
1. Improvement in the Medical Sector
Biotechnology avails us the opportunity to look within just as we can easily look to the outside world for advancement. Medical biotechnology makes use of biological systems to research and manufacture pharmaceutical and diagnosing products to treat or prevent diseases.
The knowledge in understanding the genetic makeup of the human species through biotechnology goes a long way in improving medicine. Studies that involve the human genome have allowed us to understand more about genetic diseases and some cancers, creating more effective treatments for them and sometimes cures
Some major applications of biotechnology in medicine are pharmacogenomics, genetic testing, correcting genetic defects, preventing diseases, etc. Several medical advancements with biotechnology include understanding cancer, developing how to treat it, creating vaccines, artificial tissue growth, etc.
These improvements in the medical sector make it possible to increase the average human lifespan and help those with illnesses live longer. It has also allowed us to explore the reasons behind certain birth defects to understand the importance of folic acid.
2. Reduction in Worldwide Hunger – Improves Food Security
The importance of biotechnology cannot be over-emphasized. On a global scale, millions of people still suffer from starvation, especially in the southern hemisphere of the earth.
Due to the local scarcity of food and the inability of staple crops to be grown in a specific environment, global food scarcity has been on the increase as most humans find it difficult to feed.
Biotechnology on its own has helped reduce global famine by increasing the availability of food, allowing different crop species to be grown in conditions that weren’t previously possible.
It has helped to improve the nutritional content of our food supply. Necessary vitamins and minerals can be produced in croplands and this reduces health issues that are related to a lack of nutrients.
Biotechnology also improves nutritional value and cropland yields, so people can eat less and still receive the same nutritional values. That allows more people to have the food they need.
It is a blessing for the developing and poorer countries of our planet as they can now grow and harvest crops in their region reducing the famine rates and malnutrition within their region.
The improvement in the economy of Third World countries has also led to reduced poverty levels and improved food security.
3. Conservation of Resources
The primary aim of biotechnology is to develop products and technologies that would improve our planet using cellular and biomolecular processes. Since many of our natural resources are non-renewable, it is crucial to use those resources as efficiently as possible in order to get the most out of them.
Biotechnology may be used to conserve natural resources as well as create an avenue to increase the lifespan of food supplies and shelf life. This can be seen in the preservation of food lifespan salting along with the use of freezing and drying of food products.
Pasteur pioneered an approach of heating food products to remove harmful elements so they can be preserved for an extended period.
The crops and food products have an extended expiry date, as the crops are more resistant to ripening than they previously were.
Thus, it is crucial to use the methods from biotechnology in order for us to use our natural resources in the most efficient manner so that humanity can progress further.
4. Nutritional Quality of Crops is Improved
Crops have been improved in the aspect of their nutritional quality and quality since the inception of biotechnology.
There are many regions around the world that, either due to the lack of land fertility or due to the horrid climate, cannot support the growth of certain crop species.
Biotechnology has helped in creating seeds of crop species that resist the conventional climate and growing seasons allowing crop growth to occur in drought conditions year-round.
This resulted in plants and trees growing in areas where plant growth was thought to be very difficult This has made the harvesting of more food possible throughout the world
Also, crops have been enhanced with important nutrients and vitamins providing the consumer with much-needed nutritional benefits for a healthy and balanced diet.
This has improved the dietary quality of food resulting from biotechnology practices. Eating a diet that fulfills all the nutritional needs also helps to take care of malnourished children in remote areas.
A nutritionally enhanced diet will allow food security organizations to distribute food in smaller quantities to a greater number of people.
This is because a person can then eat less and still be able to receive the right amount of nutrition.
5. Reduces the rate of Infectious Diseases
Biotechnology has helped us to create vaccines. It has helped us to be able to create treatments that reduce difficult symptoms of the disease. It has even helped us to learn how infectious diseases can be transmitted so their transmission can be reduced.
The knowledge of genetic engineering and cell culture by biotechnology enables the development of vaccines. Biotechnology has helped us to be able to treat difficult diseases and discover how infectious diseases are transmitted and how they can be treated.
According to research over 250 biotech healthcare products are available to patients with untreatable diseases, which has been a vital tool in the protection of those who are most vulnerable to these diseases, giving them a chance to live a happy, and longer lifespan. All thanks to biotechnology.
6. Reduction and Elimination of waste products
According to National Geographic, the carbon footprint left by humans on our planet from waste is quite extensive. In 2006, the USA produced 251 million tons of trash which is equivalent to five pounds of trash per day! At the end of the day, most of this trash ends up in landfills.
Biotechnology avails us the opportunity to create biodegradable products which don’t have as much of an environmental footprint as conventional products and have good biodegradable properties. As well as allow us to effectively manage our landfills.
Products such as biodegradable plastics have been very helpful in reducing land pollution and the number of landfills due to the reduced use of regular plastics.
Biodegradable plastics decompose and get absorbed into the natural environment. It is also beneficial that while they decompose, they don’t cause any harmful effects on the surrounding soil.
Furthermore, the creation of biodegradable materials from biotechnology has helped humans to be more efficient in managing landfills. The diversion from conventional plastics has considerably reduced the carbon footprint of the planet for future generations.
7. Genetic Screening
Biotechnology has allowed more efficient identification and detection of abnormalities in genetics by making it easier to genetically screen vulnerable and high-risk groups for the threat of developing inherited diseases.
This is possible by the use of the maternal or paternal chromosome to predict the likelihood of the newborn having congenital abnormalities.
It is very important to note that genetic screening uses chromosomes, genes, or proteins to identify these abnormalities.
8. Reduces The World’s Environmental Footprints
Environmental biotechnology is situated to replace materials and chemical processes that are not eco-friendly with more sustainable biological and eco-friendly options.
Several pollutions occur in our environment, and these pollutions are majorly caused by fossil fuels, plastics, building construction materials, etc.
These materials expend a lot of toxic chemicals and carbon emissions that can contribute to global warming. For instance, fossil fuels are the largest cause of air pollution, which causes many health-related issues and kills millions yearly.
But the production of biofuels from crops has gradually become an option, and several companies are also using biotechnology to break down agricultural waste to produce fuels which is an even better option.
Aside from this, new industrial biotechnology advancements are made to make the process of manufacturing cleaner by reducing toxic chemical pollution. Biotechnology in crops also significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices.
Other examples of biotechnology to reduce the world’s footprints are groundwater treatment, and cleaning up contaminated soil. It also enables us to create waste products that have better biodegradable properties.
9. Improvement in the High-quality food
One important advantage of biotechnology is that it can be used for the production of high-quality food. Food biotechnology has increased the speed and precision of scientists, which can improve the food production process and its nutritional quality
Since genetics can be altered through genetic engineering, scientists can assure that the crops that are grown contain higher levels of certain healthy components.
Thus, biotechnology can help us to create some kinds of superfoods, which may in turn benefit our health since our body can be optimally supplied with large amounts of healthy components. In addition, the loss of food and the rate of food spoilage due to diseases and pests globally reduce food production by over 35 percent.
This spoilage leads to a huge loss of money for farmers. However, with the aid of biotechnology, common crops can be grown using conservative tillage leading to less waste and saving farmers much more money.
Hence, creating healthier foods can reduce health issues related to a lack of nutrients and increase food availability.
10. Reduction in the use of Pesticides on Farms
Through biotechnology and changes in the genetic code of plants, fewer pesticides and herbicides have to be used in farming. The use of Pesticides, Herbicides, and other chemicals is a feature of every agricultural land.
They are used to protect the plant species from being invaded by pests and weeds, and also to produce a yield of crops that is much superior leading to high business returns for farmers.
However, the use of pesticides and other various chemicals can make the crops contaminated with these additives which, upon consumption by humans, can cause various illnesses.
Furthermore, the chemicals can contaminate nearby water bodies which can affect marine life and other organisms’ drinking water from these sources. The use of biotech to make plant species resistant to certain parasites and pests helps to nullify all these issues.
This is allowing farmers to reduce the use of pesticides as they can depend on these genetically modified pesticide-resistant crop species to produce an excellent yield throughout the year without adding any chemicals.
In turn, the food will be much healthier for consumers since they do not have to eat vegetables are fruits that are contaminated with large amounts of those harmful substances.
Moreover, a reduction in the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides also greatly benefits our environment.
From the above discussion, it can be concluded that biotechnology has been beneficial to both humans and the environment. The application of biotechnology has helped to reduce problems related to the environment and thus cleans the ecosystem for living organisms.
However, in as much as biotechnology is a very diverse field with constant research and development, it is just a complement, not a substitute for many areas, especially in conventional agricultural research.
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Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.