What is Biotechnology?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 3:46 pm

By Mike Atkinson | Drive Producer

The word Biotechnology might sound big and scary but in layman’s terms it feeds us, fuel us, and heals us; merging biology and technology together to help improve our everyday lives and the health of our planet.

This week our Drive host Jeziel delves into the world of biotechnology with Sci Tech‘s Lisa Stojanovski.

In Medicine

Medicine

Biotech is helping our doctors heal those who are sick by harnessing nature’s own toolbox and using our own genetic makeup.

Bio technicians develop tailor-made medicines using drugs with specific proteins, enzymes, and RNA molecules that target genetic diseases to maximise their effectiveness and minimising damage to nearby healthy cells.

Their work also helps to reduce rates of infectious diseases — particular to those in developing countries without the same medical facilities available to the western world — and create more precise tools to detect diseases, savings millions of lives.

Better vaccines can be produced using genetic engineering and knowing a patients genetics can determine the right amount of drug dosage to prescribe.

At the Pump

Petrol Pump

Biotech uses biological processes such as fermentation and harnesses biocatalysts such as enzymes, yeast, and other microbes to become microscopic manufacturing plants.

What does this mean? It means that crops and plants have been extracted to produce bio-fuel. A greener alternative to using the diminishing supply of crude oil.

Generally they are produced from wheat, corn, soya beans and sugarcane which can be produced again and again on demand, so they are sustainable.

Studies show that bio-fuels reduce greenhouse gases up to 65 percent and help economies break away from overseas crude oil dependance, which should be good for our wallets!

If you use bio-detergent in your washing load not only does it save the planet by operating at cooler temperatures (30-50°) but it keeps your clothes in better knick!

Podcast: Lisa Stojanovski from Sci Tech with Jeziel on Drive

On the Farm

Sci tech

Biotechnology has played a huge role in developing the worlds food production.  For ten thousand years fermentation has been used to produce wine, beer and bread. Selective breeding of essential foods such as rice, corn and wheat have created thousands of local varieties with improved yield compared to their wild ancestors.

Science Educator Lisa Stonjanovski said the technology is crucial to those who struggle to get a balanced diet.

“There are some regions in the world that don’t have access to really nutritious foods,” Ms Stojanovski said.

“What some people have done is that they’ve introduced extra vitamins and nutrients into every day food. For example, rice. There’s a group that put the genes for a vitamin A production into regular rice, which they called golden rice.

“The golden rice was given to people that didn’t have the ability to grow a lot of food and that were suffering nutritional deficiencies, but they created the golden rice and their vitamin A levels were back up close to normal because of the biotechnology improving their lives.”

Sci Tech are running The World Biotech Tour this August and are running several events showcasing the benefits of biotechnology.

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