Biotechnology is one of the world’s newest and most important applied science of the 21st century. It integrates different domains of science and technology like physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, law and biology for the betterment of human health. It includes the manipulation of organisms on the molecular and genetic levels to improve health, safety, nutrition, and the environment.
The word ‘biotechnology’ was coined by Karl Ereky (1878–1952), in Hungary in 1919, to describe the general processes of converting raw materials into useful products, such as on industrial farms. The term ‘Biotechnology’ may sound futuristic but its use and application date back to our early civilization. We have been using the biological processes of microorganisms for more than 6,000 years to make useful food products such as bread, cheese and to preserve dairy products. The rapid advancement of modern biological science and technology and their combined effort has boosted the scope and application of Biotechnology like never before.
The biotechnology definition as develped by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) goes as “the application of science and technology to living organisms as well as parts, products and models thereof, to alter living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods, and services.” This definition covers the entire modern biotechnology including the traditional activities.
Based on its application there are five main areas of biotechnology as given below:
1. Animal Biotechnology
It deals with the development of disease-resistant transgenic animals for increased milk or meat production. Animal models of human diseases may be produced for research purposes. Transgenic animals are also used for the purpose of molecular farming, i.e. the production of pharmaceutically important proteins in animal bodies.
2. Plant and agricultural biotechnology
It deals with the development of transgenic plants which are tolerant to different environmental stress and diseases. Genetically modified plants with high yielding products are prepared. They may also be used for molecular farming.
3. Medical Biotechnology
In the field of medical science, genetic engineering has helped in the large scale production of blood serum proteins hormones, in the development of antibiotics, and other medically useful products like monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of dreaded diseases like cancer.
4. Industrial Biotechnology:
It deals with commercial production of various useful substances, such as acetic acid, citric acid, acetone, antibiotics like penicillin, streptomycin, etc., through the use of microbial bioreactors and fermenters.
5. Environmental Biotechnology
Increasing pollution and waste management have become a huge concern for authorities. The use of microorganisms in this regard has opened huge possibilities for pollution and waste management. Enzymatic detoxification and bioremediation have vast applications in managing wastewater and industrial effluents.
It is a good time to understand that Indian Life science space is very dynamic and is in a booming stage full of opportunities in all its sectors. The biotechnology scope in India is ample and it is estimated to grow by 30.46 percent CAGR by 2025, making it a 100 billion dollar industry. Also, India is among the top 12 biotech destinations in the world and ranks third in the Asia-Pacific region.
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