What is biotechnology?

3 min. reading
Biotechnology / 3 September, 2021

Karla García Gil Journalist

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Biotechnology refers to all those scientific and technological applications to living organisms, their parts and by-products, in order to modify them for the production of goods and services, as well as to obtain new knowledge. In general, biotechnology aims at the improvement of a specific character in a biological system.

This discipline has evolved more than any other in the field of science and technology in recent decades. Advances in gene editing, genomic sequencing and synthetic biology open up possibilities to face enormous challenges in sectors essential to human life.

One example of this industry’s growth is the reduction of costs. According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), sequencing a human genome in 2006 cost 100 million dollars, whereas today it can be done for only 200 million dollars. It took ten years and a cost of 1 billion dollars for the University of California Davis in the United States to develop a flood-resistant rice seed, 10 years for Brazil to develop herbicide-resistant soybeans, and 12 years for Argentina to produce drought- and salinity-resistant soybeans. Today, gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR make it possible to reduce the time and costs associated with developing these seeds by up to 75 percent.

Biotechnology Sector Delivers Big Gains for Humanity and Investors

Biotechnology Sector Delivers Big Gains for Humanity and Investors

The biotechnology is gaining ground thanks to its multiple applications, which makes this megatrend an important option for investors looking to expand their portfolio with innovation.

Types of biotechnology

  1. Red or medical – Related to medicine and veterinary products. It includes the development of vaccines, antibiotics and the production of new drugs, as well as molecular diagnostic techniques, regenerative therapies and the development of genetic engineering to cure diseases through genetic manipulation.
  2. White or industrial – Focused on the optimization of industrial processes, it encompasses all types of sectors such as: chemical, food, energy, environment, among others.
  3. Yellow or nutritional – Refers to the creation or improvement of certain food products. In this way, it tries to eliminate allergens and other food components that cause various intolerances.
  4. Gray or ecological – Focuses on environmental applications, such as the protection of biodiversity, the elimination of pollutants and different substances such as heavy metals and hydrocarbons.
  5. Green or agricultural – Focuses on agriculture and includes the creation of new varieties of plants of agricultural interest, the production of biofertilizers and biopesticides.
  6. Brown or desert – This is related to the treatment of desert soils. This mainly involves places such as Africa.
  7. Blue or marine – Based on the use of marine resources for the creation of products of industrial interest.
  8. Golden or informatics- This is the one that deals with bioinformatics, computer science, chip technology and nanobiotechnology.
  9. Orange or informative- It is dedicated to the dissemination of biotechnology. It provides information for society as a whole and interdisciplinary training on topics of this nature.
  10. Violet or legal – Focused on the study of the legal aspects surrounding biotechnology, a discipline that is, in itself, quite controversial. Hence the need for regulation.

Modern biotechnology

Modern biotechnology began in the early 1950s with the discovery of the structure of DNA and the way in which genetic information is transmissible from generation to generation.

These discoveries enabled a leap from traditional biotechnology to modern biotechnology and made it possible to modify genetics in a controlled, rapid and efficient manner compared to the techniques employed by traditional biotechnology.

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