What is Biotechnology?
Biotechnology is the application of the knowledge of biology in manufacturing processes. It involves the uses of living resources such as plants, animals and microorganisms which are suitably tailored to generate valuable products through technology, based on biological principles. It also involves development of new specimen through genetical engineering for use in medicine, agriculture, silviculture and industries. In short, biotechnology may be defined as technical manipulation of living organisms to get required products, superior in quality, at low cost and in massive scale.
Biotechnology is not a new technology. It has ancient foundation in its simplest form, particularly in agriculture and brewing industry. But the recent progress in biotechnology is due to understanding and application of the principles of genetics, biochemistry and microbiology. Emergence of genetic engineering has lead to the development of novel strains of micro-organisms for use in industries and agriculture. Great advancement in designing of bioreactor and computer aided process control has given a new dimension to the technology which has already revolutionised many facets of agriculture, medicine and industrial practices.
While biologists and biochemists discovers the biological and biochemical processes that are responsible for production of substances by living organisms, it is the process engineers who translate these discoveries into industrial processes. Biologists explore the knowledege of the molecular aspects of living organisms and the genetical engineers translate the knowledge for genetic manipulation of some organisms to create newer varieties of efficient organisms which can be used for obtaining valuable products easily, sufficiently and in less cost. It is not easy to develop a organisms having specific genetic make up. But once it is accomplished it is the function of the technologists to utilise the organism in a suitable industrial process.
The main aims of biotechnology are:
1. to develop industrial processes, for production of organic acids, various types of solvents, antibiotics, enzymes, hormones, insulin, steroids, vitamins etc. from ordinary raw materials or waste materials using specific types of natural or genetically tailored microorganisms.
2. to develop recombinant microorganisms through genetic engineering or motecular engineering, for specific uses in agriculture and industries.
3. to cure genetic diseases and to develop gene surgery and gene
4. to develop technology for organ culture and use of plant tissue culture technique for micro propagation of commercially important plants.
5. to reduce the impact of pollution by use of suitable biological processes of waste treatment.
6. to develop and utilise bioenergy.
7. to create improved varieties of plant and animal through genetical manipulation and breeding.