You are on page 1of 14

The National Degree College (Autonomous

Basavangudi, bangalore560 004

A brief report on-
““The Applications of Bio-Technology”

Arun S

applications of Bio-technology

Biotechnology is a field of applied biology -that involves the use of living organisms and
bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bio-
products. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose. Modern
use of similar terms includes genetic engineering as well as cell and tissue culture
technologies. The concept encompasses a wide range of procedures for modifying living
organisms according to human purposes — going back to domestication of animals,
cultivation of plants, and "improvements" to these through breeding programs that
employ artificial selection and hybridization. By comparison to biotechnology,
bioengineering is generally thought of as a related field with its emphasis more on
higher systems approaches (not necessarily altering or using biological materials
directly) for interfacing with and utilizing living things. The United Nations Convention
on Biological Diversity defines biotechnology-
"Any technological application that uses biological systems, living
organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or
processes for specific use."
In other terms: "Application of scientific and technical advances in life science to
develop commercial products" is biotechnology. Biotechnology draws on the pure
biological sciences (genetics, microbiology, animal cell culture, molecular biology,
biochemistry, embryology, cell biology) and in many instances is also dependent on
knowledge and methods from outside the sphere of biology (chemical engineering,
bioprocess engineering, information technology, biorobotics). Conversely, modern
biological sciences (including even concepts such as molecular ecology) are intimately
entwined and dependent on the methods developed through biotechnology and what is
commonly thought of as the life sciences industry.

By using the techniques of biotechnology, the drugs biopharmaceuticals were
developed. There are no chemicals involved in the synthesis of these drugs, but
microorganisms have made it possible to develop them. Large molecules of proteins are
usually the source of biopharmaceuticals. They when targeted in the body attack the
hidden mechanisms of the disease and destroy them. Now scientists are trying to
develop such biopharmaceutical drugs which can be treated against the diseases like
hepatitis, cancer and heart diseases.

These drugs are made by many ways and one method of developing such drugs is
bioreactor. Bioreactor is a container which is used to grow microorganisms under the
specific temperature and other required conditions. These microorganisms then make
biopharmaceuticals. Though genetically modified plants and animals can also be used to
make biopharmaceuticals but then there are various ethical and legal issues regarding
these animals and plants.

Gene Therapy

Gene therapy is another technique of biotechnology which is used to treat and diagnose
diseases like cancer and Parkinson's disease. The mechanism of this technique is that
the healthy genes are targeted in the body which either destroy the damaged cells or
replace them. In some cases, the healthy genes make corrections in the genetic
information and that is how the genes start functioning in the favor of the body.

Pharmacogenomics is another genetically modified technique which is used to study the
genetic information of an individual. It analyzes the body's response to certain drugs.
It is the combination of pharmaceuticals and genomics. The aim of this field is to
develop such drugs which are inserted in the individual according to the genetic
information present in the individual.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is a technique of genetics which is used to determine the genetic
diseases in parents, sex and carrier screening. The method of genetic testing is to use
DNA probes which have the sequences similar to the mutated sequences. This technique
is also used to identify the criminals and to test the paternity of the child.

It is concluded that no field of science can be successful until it uses the techniques of
biotechnology. Scientists are working in the research area to develop new drugs and
vaccines and are also finding cures for the diseases which were difficult to treat in the
past decade. Biotechnology is a field of miracles.

Diagrammatic representation of the working of interferons


Engineered Crops

the most widespread application of genetic engineering in agriculture by far is in
engineered crops. Thousands of such products have been field tested and over a dozen
have been approved for commercial use. The traits most commonly introduced into crops
are herbicide tolerance, insect tolerance, and virus tolerance.

Herbicide Tolerance

Case Study: Soybeans
Herbicide tolerance allows crops to withstand otherwise lethal doses of herbicides, which
are chemicals that kill plants. Some herbicides kill virtually all plants and cannot be
used on crops. By offering crops tolerant to herbicides, chemical companies can expand
the market for their products. Indeed, the major developers of herbicide-tolerant plants
are companies that sell herbicides. The current set of commercially available herbicide-
tolerant crops is tolerant to three herbicides based on three active ingredients:
bromoxynil, glyphosate, and glufosinate.

Insect Tolerance
All of the commercially available insect-tolerant plants contain a version of the toxin
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is found in nature in soil bacteria. Bt toxins are
highly effective for many pest organisms, like beetles and moth larva, but not toxic to
mammals and most other nontarget organisms. A major concern among farmers and
environmentalists is that wide use of Bt crops will lead to the rapid development (over
the course of perhaps as few as three to five years) of resistance to the toxin. If
resistance develops, the Bt toxin will be useless as a pesticide. In this case, the
environmental benefits of the product will be short lived.

Loss of Bt efficacy will affect those who currently use the engineered Bt crops, but
also many other farmers who use Bt in its natural bacterial form, usually as a spray.
These other farmers include those who grow food organically and those who use Bt as
part of integrated pest management (IPM) plans. Natural Bt sprays are a valuable
mode of pest control for these farmers. Organic farmers and others who rely on Bt
question whether the companies who sell the Bt crops have the right to use up this
resource guided only by commercial calculations. UCS considers Bt to be a public good
that should be reserved for everyone.

Virus Tolerance

The third major application of biotechnology to crops is virus tolerance. These crops
contain a gene taken from a virus. By a process that is not well understood, plants that
produce certain viral proteins are able to fend off infections by the viruses from which
the proteins were taken. Two virus-tolerant crops are currently approved for commercial
use, papaya and squash. The squash, which is resistant to two viruses, is currently off
the market. Although it is difficult to get information on why products are not on the
market, it is possible that the squash did not perform well enough in the field to
capture market share.


Many other genetically engineered products have been envisioned, but only a few have
so far come to market.

Several tomatoes engineered to delay ripening have been approved for commercial use.
In some cases, delayed ripening just prolongs shelf life. But for the FlavrSavrTM, the
objective was to increase the time on the vine without softening, producing a
transportable, tasty winter tomato. After a highly publicized rollout, the FlavrSavrTM
too is off the market. The problem appears to have been with transportability rather
than taste.

On the livestock side, a drug has been produced for dairy cows—recombinant Bovine
Growth Hormone (BGH) or Bovine Somatotropin (BST)—by engineering a bacterium
to contain the gene for the hormone. The drug is administered to cows to increase milk
production, despite the chronic oversupply of milk in the United States. A highly
controversial product, BGH is currently used on about a third of the U.S. dairy herd.

An interesting product not related to agriculture is a rabies vaccine intended for use on
wild raccoons. In this case, genetic engineering was used to construct a "hybrid" virus
made up of a component of the rabies virus inserted into an unrelated "carrier" virus.
The resulting virus confers immunity to rabies but poses no danger of causing the
disease. Baits laced with the vaccine have been distributed in many parts of the eastern
United States in attempts to combat rabies in wild raccoon populations. The vaccine has
been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, despite suspicions that it has
been only marginally, if at all, effective. Early studies on efficacy failed to demonstrate
that the product could control rabies in wild raccoon populations. Data from more recent
studies are being withheld from the public as confidential business information.

Genetically engineered tomato

Diagrammatic representation of engineered corn


Currently, beer is one of the beverage products with the largest annual production
worldwide of 1767 million hL in 2007 alone, with lager beer production accounting for
90% of the total beer produced. The present drivers for technological improvement in
brewing are increased industrial competition and consolidation, constant demand for
increased productivity and flexibility, and the need for achieving high quality together
with low costs and compliance with environmental policies. Using metabolic engineering
strategies, improvements in the brewer's yeast fermentation performance has involved
increased attenuation rate, improved control of the production of beer flavor
metabolites, increased ethanol yields and osmotolerance for high-gravity beer
fermentations, and reduced ethanol yield for low or zero alcohol beer production. With
the availability of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome sequence, together with the
bioinformatics tools enabling integration and interrogation of large x-omics data sets, it
is possible to identify high-probability targeted genetic or metabolic strategies to
increase yield, titer, productivity, and/or robustness of the existing brewing process.
As the use of GMO strains in brewing is not accepted, mutagenesis remains the
alternative approach for obtaining brewer's yeast variants with superior performances.
However, the use of enzymes, often products of genetically modified strains, for brewing
process optimization is currently recognized. As brewing is a product-based process,
introduction of new technologies for process optimization such as high-gravity brewing
and continuous fermentation using immobilized yeast in brewing lead to improved
economics without change in the product characteristics and quality.
Apart from this, yeast is genetically modified for their activity rate to increase in

Genetically engineered yeast cells


* Some people are allergic to GM
Note: Many genetically modified crops are enhanced by introducing a fish or peanut
protein. This is the reason people think GM foods give people allergic reactions. The
protein is isolated from the organism, it is a simple protein it does not contain all of
the things a fish would have when you consume it.

* Genes might flow by wind or be carried by animals to contaminate nearby plants,
however this is no different from natural hybridization and cross-pollination.

* Scientists worries that plant-eating insects and weeds will develop resistance to BT
crops leading to the creation of super-bags or weeds that cannot be destroyed, this is a
fact of life for any resistant strains of crops -- pests always adapt to pest control
methods and new methods are developed - indeed the use of antibiotics in hospitals has
led to "super bugs" such as MRSA and hospitals emphasising to staff and visitors the
use of hygiene to prevent infections rather than stronger or different antibiotics to cure
these infections.

* Some people argued that BT crops maybe poisonous to wildlife or humans
scientific fact.

* Companies often hold patents on GM seeds and license and protect these patents.
Meaning- the genome (including the human genome) is copyrighted. God is yet to sue
for prior art.
However, it could also be argued that GM crops have advantages too. Seeds could be
modified to grow in conditions where naturally they wouldn’t; this argument is often
used to support the use of GM crops in the 3rd world where staple crops such as wheat
or barley do not grow so readily.

 The introduction of transgenic animals to the existing environment cannot be
predicted as their behavior cannot be exactly judged. This will lead to a
disturbance in the ecosystem
The transgenic animal experimental results are not predictable and are not
always safe as any slight changes in the experiment may lead to mutation which may be