Biotechnology is the technology that uses living organisms or parts of living organisms to develop and create various products. It harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet. Today, biotechnology covers many different fields (eg. genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, etc.). New technologies and products are developed every year within the areas of eg. medicine (development of new medicines and therapies), agriculture (development of genetically modified plants, biofuels, biological treatment) or industrial biotechnology (production of chemicals, paper, textiles and food). Biotech is being used in the medical field to reduce rates of infectious diseases, create tools for precise disease detection and combating everyday biological threats.
In the agricultural field, biotech is being used to improve crop insect resistance, enhance crop herbicide tolerance and it also facilitates the use of more environmentally sustainable farming practices. Through this, higher crop yields are being generated and food produced is free of any allergens or toxins. Biotech has also reduced the amount of input needed for a good yield, helped produce crops that need fewer applications of pesticides and helped develop crops with enhanced nutrition profiles that solve vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.
Biotech has also immensely helped the industrial world. It uses biological processes such as fermentation and harnesses biocatalysts such as enzymes, yeast, and other microbes to become microscopic manufacturing plants. It has helped streamline chemical manufacturing processes and has improved the efficiency of manufacturing processes. This has saved companies millions of dollars in operating costs. Biofuels are being used much more today and have cut greenhouse gas emmissions by over 50%. Hence, the dependance on and usage of petrochemicals has reduced significantly. Biotech is also helping decrease water usage and waste generation and is tapping into the full potential of biomass waste products.
Overall, the revenues of U.S. and European biotechnology industries roughly doubled over the five-year period from 1996 through 2000. Rapid growth continued into the 21st century, fueled by the introduction of new products, particularly in health care. By 2020 the biotechnology market size was estimated at $752.88 billion globally, with new opportunities for growth emerging in particular from government- and industry-driven efforts to accelerate drug development and product-approval processes. Recent advances in biotechnology are helping us prepare for and meet society’s most pressing challenges. It is no doubt, very important for the future of our species as well as the planet.