For a number of people, biotechnology might be quite a new idea. Some may have heard about it quite recently and may not be aware that it has been an industry that has existed for decades already. And a great majority may not have been aware of the fact that biotechnology itself has played a great part in several advances that have happened in a number of scientific fields. In order to know more about biotechnology, here are some facts that everyone should know about.
Contrary to what other people might think, biotechnology is not such a new field. In fact, the biotechnology industry may have started around the 1970’s. It was first used as a term common in the food and agriculture industries. After that, it was the used to refer to laboratory based techniques used in biological research. The practice for modern biotechnology methods was based largely on the discovery and formulation of a new recombinant DNA technique which was first published in 1973 by Stanley Cohen of Stanford University and Herbert Boyer of the University of California in San Francisco.
The Recombinant DNA technique is a method of creating artificial DNA through the manipulation of several DNA strands and combining them in order to develop new DNA strands that would not normally occur together. This can be used to make a number of essential proteins such as human insulin and other therapies in a controlled environment such as cultured cells in laboratories. 1982 was the year that the first recombinant (genetically engineered) human insulin became the first biotech therapy ever to earn FDA approval. The product was developed by Genentech, which was founded by Herbert Boyer, in partnership with Eli Lilly and Co.
Since then, the field of biotechnology has given way for a lot of other products to be developed for the benefit of more and more people. And its scope has stretched into a wide range of different industries. In the field of agriculture and food technology, consumers have now been able to enjoy foods developed by biotechnology such as papaya, soybeans and corn.
A number of genetically modified crops and other agricultural products also are being used in many farms in order to improve our food supply and to reduce dependence on the use of conventional chemical pesticides by creating plants that are able to resist pests as well as harsh environmental conditions more effectively. Biotechnology in the environmental industry enables scientists to develop products that make it possible for cleaning up hazardous waste more efficiently by developing genetically engineered pollution-eating microbes.
Biotechnology also has been able to develop a number of industrial applications that have further led to the establishment of cleaner manufacturing processes in factories. This has enabled manufacturers to produce less waste and use less energy and water. Industries dealing with the manufacture of chemicals, pulp and paper, textiles, food and metals have benefited through such processes.
Even in the field of medicine, biotechnology has brought about the development of a number of new drugs to combat and treat a number of diseases. Currently, there are more than 400 biotech drug products and vaccines undergoing clinical trials targeting more diseases such as a variety of cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and even AIDS.