Biotechnology is a multidisciplinary subject evaluated from the integrated use of life science, chemical sciences and engineering sciences.  It is a complex set of highly sophisticated laboratory procedures which make use of living organisms to provide useful products to manufacturing industries.  Biotechnology takes the application of scientific and engineering principles to the processing of materials by biological agents.  These biological agents are enzymes, micro-organisms, unicellular or multicellular plants and animals.  Now these biological agents are again being modified through genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technique to suit the needs of mankind.

Biotechnology is used to create energy, develop new varieties of crops, destroy waste materials and manufacture new products.  It has become the fastest growing technology the world ever.  It can be used in agriculture, basic sciences, engineering, medicine, pollution control, forestry, horticulture and environment.  It includes various types of technologies, namely recombinant DNA technology, cell culture, tissue culture, germplasm development, embryo transfer technology, enzyme and protein engineering, fermentation, bioconversion, and immobilisation of cell and cellular products.

The most useful applications of biotechnology have been witnessed in the field of agriculture.  On March 26, 2002 Genetic engineering approval committee approved the commercial production of Bt cotton, a genetically modified crop.  The next genetically modified crop would be mustard.  These crops are free from diseases.  They withstand harsh weather and give higher yields per hectare then those given by traditional crops.

The modern world has laid its future hopes on this technology for all round progress and development.  Residents of this planet is of over population.  Environmental quality is deteriorating every fraction of time known.  Mankind is facing new damages to human health through microbial and non-microbial diseases like cancer and AIDS.  Biotechnology has promised some alternatives or solutions to all these problems.

Gene therapy is another area where biotechnology is expected to yield wonders.  Genetic engineering, in the parlance of agricultural production, has become the leading technology. That is because green revolution had hit a plateau.  Thus, genetic engineering could lead the nation to her second green revolution.  Genetic engineering would soon make its presence felt in other vital areas of human endeavour.  Medicine is one such key area.   We hope that able scientists involved in the field of genetic engineering would be able to weed out its harmful effects.

Probable applications of biotechnology include the development of better and cheaper drugs, better antifertility agents, harmone production, immunologistic kits, vaccines for cancer, gene probe and gene therapy.  Biotechnology holds a treamendous potential in improving the plant and animal resources from which man derives food.  Biotechnology has also marked its impact in the sweetener industry.  Baker's yeast wine bear, sour hunch bread, yoghurt, cheese, vinegar are some of the foods and beverages  obtained from micro organisms.

The application of biotechnology in the area of animal husbandary in increasing production efficiency is worth noting.  Embryo transfer technology will enhance animal production in years to come.  It would also boost animal productivity.  A number of non-conventional food constituents have been secreted from micro organisms.

The processes of biological nitrogen fixation in carried out by free living and symbiolic microrganisms.  In the veterinary field, biotechnological applications include utilization of hybridoma technology for animal health care, production of efficient vaccines for infectious diseases, embryo transfer.  Production of fine chemicals from agricultural wastes, production of antibiotics, vitamins, amino acids, presentation of industrial products from spoilage are some major applications of biotechnology in industries.

Every new technology has its advantages and limitations.  We must remove the limitations of the processes and products of biotechnology and exploit its advantages to the hilt.  U.S.A., Japan, China and Russia are far ahead of India in terms of biotechnological research.  Biotechnology, like IT, is knowledge intensive.  Biotechnology requires good IT infrastructure and knowledge which is available in India.

It is the domestic demand that has fuelled the biotechnology growth in India.  Biotechnology is increasing with major thrust into human health, agriculture and a lot of other fields. Proper channelisation of resources and knowledge is required for further growth and progress of biotechnology.


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