What is Biotechnology about?
Biotechnology is simply technology that is based on biology. To move a little deeper, Biotechnology is defined as any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.
The word biotechnology is derived from the Greek words ‘bios’ (everything to do with life) and ‘technikos’ (involving human knowledge and skills).
Biotechnology has been applied to fields of agriculture, food production as well as medicine.
Currently, there are more than 300 biotechnology health care products and vaccines available to patients, many for previously untreatable diseases. More than 18 million farmers around the world use agricultural biotechnology to increase yields, prevent damage from insects and pests and reduce farming’s impact on the environment. And more than 50 biorefineries are being built across North America to test and refine technologies to produce biofuels and chemicals from renewable biomass, which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
There are several branches of biotechnology namely:
- Blue Biotechnology
- Green Biotechnology
- Red Biotechnology
- White Biotechnology
Blue biotechnology is a term that has been used to describe the marine and aquatic applications of biotechnology, but its use is relatively rare.
Marine life has adapted to thrive in the extreme ambient conditions found in the sea. Blue biotechnology is concerned with the exploration and exploitation of the resulting diverse marine organisms in order to develop new products.
Green biotechnology is biotechnology applied to agricultural processes. Green Biotechnology is the use of genetically altered plants or animals to produce more environmentally-friendly farming solutions as an alternative to traditional agriculture, horticulture, and animal breeding processes.
Red Biotechnology refers to the use of organisms in genetic engineering processes in order to design and manufacture pharmaceutical products like antibiotics and vaccines.
Red biotechnology is applied to medical processes. Some examples are the designing of organisms to produce antibiotics, and the engineering of genetic cures through genetic manipulation.
White biotechnology is also known as industrial biotechnology, is biotechnology applied to industrial processes. An example is the designing of an organism to produce a useful chemical. Another example is the using of enzymes as industrial catalysts to either produce valuable chemicals or destroy hazardous/polluting chemicals. White biotechnology tends to consume less in resources than traditional processes used to produce industrial goods.
Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that develops methods and software tools for understanding biological data. As an interdisciplinary field of science, bioinformatics combines computer science, statistics, mathematics, and engineering to analyze and interpret biological data. Bioinformatics has been used for in silico analyses of biological queries using mathematical and statistical techniques.
Bioinformatics is both an umbrella term for the body of biological studies that use computer programming as part of their methodology, as well as a reference to specific analysis “pipelines” that are repeatedly used, particularly in the field of genomics. Common uses of bioinformatics include the identification of candidate genes and nucleotides (SNPs). Often, such identification is made with the aim of better understanding the genetic basis of disease, unique adaptations, desirable properties (esp. in agricultural species), or differences between populations. In a less formal way, bioinformatics also tries to understand the organizational principles within nucleic acid and protein sequences.