For a long time now, man has invented and modified various things using technology. This technology ranges from technical, physical, to biological technology. Biotechnology is therefore a discipline that encompasses several other disciplines such as biology, mathematics, engineering, chemistry, and physics just to mention a few (Shmaefsky, 2006, p.57).
A biotechnology laboratory will not be new to a person who has worked in any other scientific laboratory given their similarity (Shmaefsky, 2006, p.57). As such, in biotechnology scientific instruments from other disciplines of science are borrowed and integrated to come up with new products. For instance, biotechnology is the reason behind new varieties of crops such as transgenic cotton, potatoes, and different tomato breeds as well as new breed animals such as the dolly sheep and many others.
It is therefore agreeable that in biotechnology new products are made and the existing products modified to be of better value. Biotechnology therefore has wide application in the fields of agriculture, environment, industry, and medicine just to mention a few. This paper seeks to examine the importance of biotechnology in genetic modification.
Biotechnology is of novel importance in the field of genetic modification of food. Genetic modification of food entails the alteration of different crops and animals through gene transfer and engineering as a way of improving food productivity. Given the low supply of food and the increasing global population there have been an increased demand for food.
Therefore, to meet the increasing food demand, biotechnologists looked for ways through which the production and supply of food could be increased using the existing resources such as land. This led to the invention of gene modification whereby a gene is altered in order to make more productive under the same conditions.
Genetic modified crops are as a result of a change in the genetic modification of plants by altering or introduction of a better gene in a low producing crop (Atherton, 2002). For instance, a gene that will make a plant disease resistant and stronger could be introduced in disease prone crops thus making them free from disease hence producing more yields.
Biotechnology is also useful in animal production by enabling transfer of good genes such as those free from disease, high milk producing and weather conducive genes which when inserted in an animal lacking the aforementioned features will produce a high yielding animal. It can thus be said that biotechnology through genetic modification has had significant contribution in the food industry.
Nevertheless, genetic modified organisms have led to a lot of controversy regarding the foods produced through genetic engineering. There have been claims that genetic modified foods have health impacts on those who consume them. For instance, it has been noted that genetically modified foods lead to allergic reactions given the production of a bacterium called Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT), which inhabits in the soil (Atherton, 2002).
It is argued that the BT toxin produced is very concentrated and could have health impacts of overworking the kidney. The BT gene causes flu-like symptoms, nausea and skin rashes. In addition to this, genetic modification has the long-term effect of the possibility of out-crossing foreign genes in organism that had been introduced in other organism hence leading to resistance (Atherton, 2002). This resistance has the danger of affecting food security and safety since the plants or animals will not be manageable.
Atherton, K. (2002). Genetically Modified Crops: Assessing Safety. London. Taylor & Francis.
Shmaefsky, B. (2006). Biotechnology 101. London: Greenwood Publishing Group.