Essay on Biotechnology status in the developing countries

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People often say that the present century belongs to biologists. This saying has been proved true due to the emergence of biotechnology as a special branch of science.

It uses biological sciences as the main-stay and integrates many branches of physical sciences. It is defined as the use of knowledge and techniques of cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, molecular biology, cell and tissue culture and chemical engineering for harvesting beneficial products and / or services using microbial cells or eukaryotic cells as the hosts.

The foundation stone of its emergence was laid by the elucidation of the molecular structure of the blue print of life, the DNA. However, it made a modest beginning with the discovery of the restriction enzymes, plasmids and the construction of the first recombinant DNA molecule between 1970 and 1980. Thereafter, it has surged forward and never looked back.

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Its applications have been used to mitigate most of the contemporary problems of the human society. Looking at its tremendous application potential, commercialization of biotechnology started and over the last 10-15 years it has reached a height and in the coming years, it is believed that it will take over all traditional commercial practice.

Biotechnology status in the developing countries

Commercialization in biotechnology ranges from research to products and services. It can play an important role in fostering the economic and social development of the developing countries.

Research in biotechnology has led to the harvesting of an expanding range of products and processes across several sectors.

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These include biopharmaceutical and health-care products, diagnostic kits, genetically modified food, bio-pesticides, and bio-fertilizers, improved varieties of seeds including artificial seeds, bioprocess technology and biotechnology-based techniques for detoxifying the environment.

It is believed that biotechnology will bring about a sustainable development by increasing the standard of living of the world’s increasing population without depleting the finite natural resource and degrading the environment. Emphasis is laid on striking a balance between the development needs and environmental conservation.

A wider diffusion of the knowledge and skill of biotechnology is the key to achieving a sustainable development in the present context.

Large capital input is necessary for establishing the infrastructure and generating trained human resource, which the developing countries are not capable of. In case, infrastructure for research and development is established, its management remains a question. The management should be proper and systematic to build up scientific and technological competence.

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There is a great variation in biotechnology development and application among the developing countries. More technologically developing countries like India, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Brazil and Cuba have set biotechnology as a high priority for development.

These countries have invested significantly in the infrastructure building and human resource development and have liberalized foreign investment. Biotechnology research programmes, especially in tried agricultural sector such as the manufacture of bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides and disease resistant seedlings and application of plant tissue culture techniques have steadily increased.

The application of advanced biotechnological techniques such as the production of-transgenic crop plants and artificial seeds in China; manufacture of several biopharmaceutical products in India, Cuba and Republic of Korea have been made commercial.

Less- advanced countries are confined to traditional and less sophisticated technologies such as food fermentation and nitrogen fixation. Middle East countries have emphasized on developing stress tolerant plants and bioremediation.

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In Africa, the level of sophistication in biotechnology is variable ranging from traditional application of food fermentation to monoclonal antibody and diagnostic kit manufacture and plant tissue culture application.

United Arab Republic (Egypt), Kenya, Nigeria and Republic of South Africa are the front runners in this respect. Biotechnology research and development in Africa revolves round several international research and development centers, namely the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria and International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya.

UAR and Republic of South Africa have given high priority to biotechnology in development planning in respect of infrastructure and human resource development.

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